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You can’t Brita Your Way out of This

On Earth Day let’s bring attention to an organization you may not know: Alabama Department of EnvironmentalManagement. They control so much about Alabama’s environment. Dangerously, it’s under the radar, affectingyour health and the health of your children. ADEM never makes the news for scandalous affairs or sex trafficking, so they don’t draw the same attention as the state’s other miscreants. Well, let me hype them up for a minute. I’m asking you to pay close attention to this government organization and demand that it act in the state’s interest. In a sadly ironic way, a state that doesn’t allow gambling is gambling with its clean water. Full of natural resources and biodiversity, Alabama should not subject its citizens to ADEM’s environmental disdain or its corrupt back pocket policies. ADEM, you are stacking the deck against us by lining our waterways with unlined coal ash pits. Move your ash. ADEM, you need to require that coal ash from unlined and leaking pits be moved to dry, lined pits. Why? there are over 110 million tons of toxic coal ash stored next to waterways at nine different sites owned by Alabama Power, TVA and PowerSouth. ADEM has the power to tell these companies to move their coal ash, but they have failed to do so. Because these pits are next to our waterways, any weather event could quickly turn catastrophic if it came into contact with these ash pits. A tornado or flood could destabilize the pits, unleashing tons of coal ash into our waterways. Not only would it affect our drinking supply, it would also devastate the freshwater biodiversity of these rivers, lakes, and streams. Don’t forget, all water isconnected. What happens in one of these sites affects everything downstream.

We have an example of doing nothing and its cost: the Kingston Fossil Plant coal fly ash slurry spill was an environmental and industrial disaster that occurred on Monday December 22, 2008, when a dike ruptured at a coal ash pond at the Tennessee Valley Authority's Kingston Fossil Plant in Roane County, Tennessee, releasing 1.1 billion US gallons of coal fly ash. The clean up cost the TVA over one billion dollars and caused cancer in the personnel who had contact with the ash. Not only that, but because these pits are unlined, there is continual groundwater contamination. Yes, that means this water, OUR water is continuously being polluted by coal ash. What is in coal ash? Arsenic, radium and cobalt. All are carcinogens and illegal levels of these pollutants have been found in the water near these sites. Those things go great with a lemon in drinking water, am I right? This is downright irresponsible. ADEM should not be making this enormous gamble with the health and wellbeing of its citizens, the future, and our wildlife. Yes, this will be expensive. That is the cost of doing business. I own two businesses and fully understand that to run an ethical business, it costs money. Currently ADEM is allowing businesses to keep their profit margin healthy at the expense of the health of its citizens and ecosystem. Paying now is always better than paying later. Medical billsfor people with cancer, untimely deaths, and the future of our children and grandchildren are in the balance. You can’t Brita your way out of this pain in the ash. Sincerely, -Liz Lane

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