Another illustration of the toxic nature of Coal Ash and the negative impacts that go along with it are playing out in multiple locations around Alabama. It's currently about the leachate from the landfill, which is the resulting liquid after rainwater and surface water has percolated through a landfill and is collected at the bottom by the liners. When the landfill was originally permitted, it apparently was planning to take this leachate, which all modern landfills collect, treat, and dispose of, to the Marion Waste Water Treatment Plant. However, that plant has been out of compliance with its permits for sometime. Did the state or federal agencies, ADEM or EPA, think that this massive influx of new material was going to take care of itself? Was this not looked at when they granted these permits and had the chance to make sure to protect public health at all cost?
Then, after complaints of citizens and environmental groups about that problem, the landfill operators started scrambling to get rid of the leachate somewhere else. There are numerous allegations that it was illegally dumped in ditches for a time until a new place was found. Demopolis came to the rescue...until it was found to have problems with its permits. So, the most recent solution was to ship it to a facility near Mobile, Liquid Environmental Solutions, that would process it before sending it to the Mobile Waste Water Treatment Plant. However, again due to citizen pressure and environmental groups, the company has decided to quit accepting the waste because it wants to continue to be a "good corporate citizen." That's one of the best statements about this situation in some time.
However, that statement also illustrates one of the problems with this whole situation. When people can stand up and say what's right, they don't want this toxic mess to deal with. When their financial livelihood is on the line, they say that they don't mind being the ash-hole of the Southeast. As a US Congressman and I discussed, this is the problem of how we have created rural economies in such a way that they are dependent on processes that more affluent, educated communities will not stand for.
Alabama, do what's right: Tell TVA that Alabama is not it's dumping ground. Bring it to corporate headquarters if it's safe. Put it in your backyard. Make a playground for your grandchildren out of this "safe" material.
I didn't think so.
And, while your at it, let's make sure to recognize that Coal Ash is another aspect of coal use for energy production that proves that our current energy dependence on fossil fuels is not sustainable. We must take the full life-cycle of coal into account, mountaintop mining to air and water pollution to by-product disposal, when we say this is the method of energy production we want to continue to depend on.