Alabama Power launches public meetings

Alabama Power launches public meetings
Monday's meeting was held at the Carver Community Center in Eutaw. (Dennis Washington / Alabama NewsCenter)

Alabama Power has launched a series of public meetings around Alabama to identify and discuss the company’s assessment of corrective measures to address groundwater protection standards.

Monday’s meeting was at the Carver Community Center in Eutaw. Subject matter experts explained to residents the benefits of the company’s preferred method of disposing coal combustion residuals, commonly known as coal ash. Best practices recommended by state health officials and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) were followed throughout the meeting, including 6 feet of social distancing, the availability of face masks for all attendees and multiple hand sanitizer stations.

“Being in the community and sharing our closure plan with the people we serve is an important part of this process,” said Lauren Petty, a principal engineer at Alabama Power. “We appreciate our customers visiting with us this evening and the opportunity to share why our plan is the right choice for Alabama.”

Alabama Power hosts public meeting in Greene County from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

As required by federal law, Alabama Power is joining power providers nationwide in closing its coal ash sites. Federal rules supported by both the Obama and Trump administrations provide two options for safely closing sites: seal in place or close by removal. Alabama Power said its preferred plan of closing in place was selected after consulting with multiple third-party experts who determined sealing the coal ash sites in place is a safe and effective option of achieving compliance with groundwater protection standards.

“We appreciate the opportunity to share the benefits of our closure plan with our customers,” said John Pugh, a Land and Water manager at Alabama Power. “As a geologist, I stand behind this project and the expertise we have at Alabama Power. We have a responsibility to protect the environment we all share and we have every confidence in this safe closure plan.”

Alabama Power said its closure and corrective action plans include removing liquids, placing the materials in a stable configuration behind specially engineered dikes and covering it with an impermeable cap to securely seal the site in place. The company will monitor the areas for decades to come to ensure protection of water quality.

“We appreciate the company being accessible and outlining their environmental plan,” said Phillis Belcher, executive director of the Greene County Industrial Development Authority. “Alabama Power has always been an important partner in the community, from economic development to their employees volunteering to help local nonprofits and civic organizations. We know we can trust Alabama Power to support positive, sustainable growth.”

Four more meetings will be held for people to learn about the company’s preferred plan to safely and securely seal the coal ash:

  • Tuesday, June 30 – Steele Creek Lodge in Satsuma.
  • Wednesday, July 1 – HVAC Training Center in Jasper.
  • Monday, July 6 – Wilsonville Baptist Church in Wilsonville.
  • Tuesday, July 7 – West Jefferson Town Hall in Quinton.

Alabama Power said that all material and information discussed during the public meetings will be available on its website for all to access once the meetings conclude. There will be additional opportunities for public involvement and comment through the Alabama Department of Environmental Management permitting process.

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