Again? Coal Ash Pond Ruptures in Alabama, Damage Unknown

The Tennesee Valley Authority says they have a spill contained near its Widows Creek power plant in northeast Alabama, but that the quantity of ash slurry spilled and damage caused is unknown.


“There’s been some release but we don’t have any information to show it’s from an ash pond,” said James McIndoe, director of water division for the Alabama Department of Environment Management. “We don’t have all the facts.”

The spill, discovered today at 6 AM, comes less than 3 weeks after the toxic ash spill near the Kingston power plant in Tennessee, where 1.1 billion gallons of ash sludge flowed across surrounding properties. That spill is estimated to be 10 times as large as the Exxon Valdez disaster in 1989.

Last week several US Senators expressed their hope that coal ash ponds will face tougher regulations after the Tennessee spill and revelations from environmental groups that around 1,300 entirely unregulated coal waste ponds exist across the country.


The Associated Press is reporting that the spill was from a container holding gypsum, the resulting material from devices attached to coal burning plants to limit their pollution. Gypsum is a nontoxic mineral, but who knows what could be mixed in with the material in storage. Also, the AP reports that there are no nearby homes so any damage is unlikely.

For more information, check out our coverage of the Tennessee spill:

Photo Credit: Carolinenyc on Flickr under Creative Commons license.

About the Author

is primarily concerned with animal welfare, wildlife conservation, and environmental justice. As a freelance writer in San Francisco, he leads a deliberately simplistic and thrifty lifestyle, yet still can’t help gawking at the newest green gadgets and zero-emission concept cars.