Alabama Power fined for air pollution violation at Mobile County plant
Alabama Power agreed to pay a fine of $ 35,000 to the Alabama Department of Environmental Management after the discovery of an air pollution violation in a coal unit at the Barry Steam power plant of the company in Mobile County.
ADEM and Alabama Power announced the deal this week, saying the company emitted more hydrochloric acid (HCl) than EPA standards allow from a coal-fired unit in Barry.
Ron Gore, head of ADEM’s air division, said Thursday that Alabama Power discovered the violation during a required quarterly inspection in April and reported it to the department.
“In the spring, they did one of those quarterly tests and exceeded the standard by 5%,” Gore said. “We thought it was bad enough to merit a fine.”
According to consent order, the national limit for HCl emissions is 0.002 pounds per million British thermal units of heat (lb / MMBtu). The Barry unit exceeded this limit on April 14, when it was emitting 0.0021 lbs / MMBtu.
Alabama Power spokesman Michael Sznajderman said via email that the company intends to comply with the consent order.
“The violation was self-reported and, according to the ordinance, was dealt with and had no impact on the environment,” Sznajderman said. “We have a strong track record in environmental compliance and Alabama Power will continue to follow state and federal measures while providing the reliable service our customers trust us. “
In the consent order, Alabama Power states that the reason for the test failure was a “sudden and unexpected introduction of moisture into the dry sorbent injection system immediately before and during the test.”
Gore said the plant uses a pneumatic system to blow a powder through its emissions to remove HCl, but that system was not functioning properly when the test was performed because the powder was too wet.
Gore said he didn’t think the issue of HCl emissions would be a recurring problem.
“They now know that this moisture clogging can be a problem and therefore there is periodic maintenance to keep the pneumatic hoses unclogged, one might say, so that they blow out the powder and not the blood cells.” , Gore said.
The company says the humidity peak occurred because it was performing maintenance on a series of dryers used in the factory the afternoon before the test, and the humidity had accumulated while the dryers were down, causing the introduction of an “unexpected short spike in moisture.” in the purge air system just before and during the test itself.