Mobile Baykeeper and State Allies Launching Petition for Postponement, Social Distancing, and Virtual Option
Mobile, Ala. – Mobile Baykeeper is raising a red flag about a public meeting Alabama Power intends to hold on Tuesday, June 30 on their Assessment of Corrective Measures prepared for Plant Barry’s egregious coal ash groundwater violations just 20 miles upstream of Mobile Bay. While the meeting is required by law, the company has kept the notice quiet with virtually no outreach, no detailed plans for social distancing, and no option for virtual attendance. Mobile Baykeeper is alarmed by the company’s attempts to suppress turnout. They are petitioning for Alabama Power to hold the meeting virtually, but if the company moves forward without one Mobile Baykeeper is encouraging the public to take safety precautions but show up.
“Alabama Power plans to leave 21 million tons of toxic coal ash – 20 times the volume of the BP Oil Disaster – by the Mobile River. That is absolutely something the public should be invited to discuss,” states Casi Callaway, Executive Director & Baykeeper of Mobile Baykeeper. “Hosting this meeting now and giving our communities no real notice is a clear attempt to undermine the public interest. They are preventing Alabama citizens from attending important meetings related to the long-term storage of toxic coal ash.”
In spite of the fact that Alabama Power is a $6 billion revenue company with a huge PR department, a company-run “news” site (Alabama News Center), and contracts for additional PR work with numerous advertising firms, notice about the meeting was only made in the Press Register and Citronelle Call. Even Alabama Power’s own Facebook page with more than 54,000 followers shows zero upcoming events. Similar meetings in North Carolina in 2019 had to turn people away because buildings exceeded their maximum occupancy (~450). The Plant Barry meeting is one of several scheduled throughout the state.
Mobile Baykeeper is urging the company to postpone the meeting and give the public proper notice. The nonprofit is also advocating for a town hall format to give people an opportunity to speak and ask questions, with proper social distancing measures, as well as a virtual attendance option and recording. Anyone can sign onto their petition at MobileBaykeeper.org/takeaction.
“The law requires these meetings be open to the public for a reason: polluting our waterways puts all of us at risk – our health, our quality of life, and our economy,” says Callaway. “Alabamians deserve clean water, and they deserve both a seat at the table and an opportunity to be heard before Alabama Power makes a decision they can’t walk back.”
Mobile Baykeeper is a 501(c)3 non-profit working for clean water, clean air, and healthy communities for more than 20 years. To learn more about Mobile Baykeeper, visit our website. To learn more about coal ash at Plant Barry, visit our Plant Barry coal ash page. To learn about coal ash pits statewide, visit AlabamaCoalAsh.org.