SACE | Southern Alliance for Clean Energy

DEP Gives the Green Light to Inject Power Plant Waste Underground


(561) 672-7638 or (781) 910-0645 – Sarah de Flesco, Clean Water Action
(850) 681-0031 – Bradley Marshall, Earthjustice
(828) 423-7845 – Kelly Martin, Sierra Club
(828) 254-6776 – Ulla Reeves, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy

DEP Gives the Green Light to Inject Power Plant Waste Underground
Plan Threatens Groundwater and Communities with Toxic Waste

FLORIDA – The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) last week gave a five-year permit to Gulf Power’s Lansing Smith Plant (Bay County) to inject 5 million gallons per day of toxic waste below the Floridian Aquifer – one of the largest and oldest aquifers in the U.S. supplying drinking water to millions of residents and visitors.

“Florida has no statewide plan on how we dispose, store, and reuse toxic coal ash. To inject it underground may be out of sight and temporarily out of mind – but it could threaten the future drinking water supply of Floridians and jeopardize our economy,” said Kathy Aterno, Florida Director of Clean Water Action.

Lansing Smith is one of seven Florida coal plants where coal ash dumps have already negatively impacts our water. According to a 2007 EPA damage case assessment report, permitted or accidental toxic releases have contaminated groundwater with cadmium, chromium, fluoride, manganese, iron, and sulfates. Toxics in drinking water can cause cancer, neurological and developmental damages in children, and internal organ damage.

Bradley Marshall, Associate Attorney for Earthjustice, explained, “Regardless of how it is classified by the DEP, the coal ash waste Gulf Power plans to inject right below the aquifer contains high levels of toxics and is hazardous to human health.”

While DEP claims the toxic waste will not be able to travel upwards into the aquifer, Gulf Power’s application does not provide any scientific evidence to support this.

“Coal ash is full of toxic heavy metals, a hazardous waste by definition. While citizens across the country are calling for increased protections for communities and waterways from coal ash, DEP’s decision defies logic and endangers Floridians’ health and precious water resources,” said Ulla Reeves, High Risk Energy Program Director, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.

In its permit application Gulf Power claims coal ash waste water will be treated before it is injected underground, but the company never explained how it would actually reduce the waste’s toxicity. Due to the self-policing involved in monitoring the wells, the above- listed organizations have little to no confidence that Gulf Power will ensure its toxic waste will be effectively treated even before going below the surface.

“Gulf Power’s latest plan to inject coal ash underground is yet another dangerous, polluting way to handle the dirty business of burning coal. Local residents would be better protected from air and water pollution by phasing out the dirty Lansing Smith coal unit,” highlighted Kelly Martin, Senior Campaign Representative, Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign.

By alleviating industries of the responsibility of properly handling toxic coal ash, DEP is passing those costs on to the public and taxpayers in the form of increased health care, pollution clean-up, and degradation of Florida’s future economic livelihood.

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Clean Water Action, Earthjustice, Sierra Club, and Southern Alliance for Clean Energy are working together on the phase-out of old coal power plants and the proper regulation, disposal and handling of coal ash.