ADEM hearing concerns about Gaston Steam Plant permit

Residents respond to wastewater hearing

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - At a public hearing in Columbiana, the Alabama Department of Environmental Management heard concerns about renewing the permit for the Gaston plant in Wilsonville. The permit regulates the discharge of the plant’s wastewater.

The plant is being federally mandated to close their coal ash ponds. The ponds were used to contain the ash so it wouldn’t pollute the air. The plant wants to discharge the water and cap the pond and existing sediment in place. It’s been done at other plants, like the one in the city of Gadsden. The problem is, studies by Alabama Power show the groundwater there was contaminated by things like radium, arsenic and lithium. Residents tonight asking why Alabama is not doing what others like North and South Carolina, Virginia, Georgia and Tennessee are doing by moving the coal ash.

“Each one of the other states is doing the right thing cause it’s the right thing to do. Move the coal ash away from our rivers, put it in lined landfills safely away from our waterways and our communities,” says Casi Callaway with Mobile Baykeepers

“We’re following the law and the law specifies that you can cap in place and then monitor. So the law is being followed and the regulations that have been set aside, or established by the Environmental Protection Agency, enforced by ADEM here in Alabama are being followed,” says Seth Hammett, Chairman of the Energy Institute of Alabama.

The plant’s permit expired in 2012 and is supposed to be renewed every five years. No word on when ADEM will decide about the permit renewal.

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