Alabama Power recently released predictions on what would happen if coal ash dams were fail at their power plants. Coal ash is the waste left over from burning coal. It is mixed with water to form a liquid
slurry which is then pumped into holding pits. Environmentalists suggest that lined land-fills would prevent the waste from seeping into groundwater. The cost of such a change would differ from plant to plant but would likely be significant. Nelson Brooke is the Black Warrior Riverkeeper. He explained the worst case scenario.
“If all that waste were to catastrophically be released out into the river, it would be devastating to the river for many miles. It would cause pretty severe impacts for wildlife, for fish, for drinking water supplies.”
Alabama is the only state without a dam safety program. The inspection of the earthen dams at power plants is left to the companies themselves.
Editor's Note: Alabama Power asserts that it's coal ash facilities are regularly inspected by EPA and are rated highly for safety and reliability. The utility also says it's had a coal ash inspection program for 40 years.