As we are finding, many Clean Air Act pollution permits in and around the Africatown community in Mobile, Prichard, and Chickasaw make clear that there are major issues with how the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) permits toxic dumping in low-income and predominantly Black communities in urban Mobile County.
But in rural north Mobile County near Bucks, there’s a mega coal and gas power plant called Plant Barry that’s owned and operated by Alabama Power and the residents near the plant are disproportionately Black and Indigenous, and there are schools and daycare facilities nearby.
And despite these facts, when Alabama Power asked for permission to release illegal levels of sulfur dioxide (SO2) from Plant Barry, ADEM agreed and chose not to enforce the Clean Air Act. So, clearly the challenge of environmental racism affect communities across Mobile County.
Breathing SO2 pollution is like getting a sunburn on your lungs, and if Alabama Power’s special permission stands, Plant Barry’s SO2 emissions could be more than two or three times the federal government’s health-based legal limit. Reliable models show the filthy plant’s air pollution is far-reaching, impacting both rural and urban communities already burdened by other pollution.
For this reason, MEJAC has joined forces with Sierra Club Alabama Chapter and GASP to petition the U.S. EPA to step in and properly regulate Alabama Power where Alabama’s state decision-makers didn’t.
Scientific air modeling based on the proposed Clean Air Act Title V permit for Plant Barry shows levels of sulfur dioxide (SO2) that are in violation of the Clean Air Act’s National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) at twice or three times the allowable levels immediately around the dangerous facility, and the illegal levels of this toxic air pollutant could even reach into already overburdened urban Mobile County communities like Africatown.
Now is the time to act! New EPA leaders have committed to achieving environmental justice in overburdened communities – yes, even in Mobile County. Our actions can help them stop polluters and policymakers from turning Black, Indigenous, communities of color, and low-income neighborhoods into dumping grounds.
If we come together, we can make a big difference not only for our neighbors living nearest Plant Barry, but for all of us who are sick of dealing with Alabama Power’s dirty and dangerous special privileges.
And all of these concerns in an addition to all the existing concerns about Alabama Power’s Plant Barry toxic, leaking coal ash waste dump on the Mobile River!