The Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) proposed a $250,000 fine on the Alabama Power Company after groundwater tests near the company’s coal ash pond in Gadsden showed high levels of arsenic and radium.
According to proposed administrative order from ADEM, Alabama Power “caused or allowed the unpermitted discharge of pollutants associated with ash pond wastewater from the Plant Gadsden Ash Pond to waters of the State.” The proposed $250,000 fine is the largest available to ADEM in a single administrative order.
The violations stem from groundwater test results that the company submitted to ADEM on May 2nd. The samples were taken from 18 wells around the now-closed coal ash pond on the Coosa River.
Alabama Power said the Gadsden Water Works also tests for water quality on the Coosa River and found no indication of problems with drinking water sources. Alabama Power also said in a statement that “Based on evaluations to date, none of the results detected pose a risk to neighbors, nearby waterways or water sources.”
Alabama Power is in the process of closing all of its coal ash ponds in compliance with new federal coal ash rules enacted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2015. The company expects to begin dewatering all of its existing ash ponds this year, but the closure process could reportedly take years to complete.