Alabama Power and Eco Material Technologies late last month unveiled a plan for the continued use of coal ash from Plant Barry in Mobile County, Alabama.

Through the collaboration, millions of tons of coal ash would be harvested from Plant Barry and recycled to make construction materials, like concrete, across the Southeast. 

Since dry ash became available for reuse at Plant Barry in 2018, more than 680,000 tons of coal ash has been beneficially used from the site. Alabama Power said the collaboration with Eco Material Technologies expands the ability to do so.

In recent years, demand for using coal ash to produce concrete has outpaced production.

Eco Material Technologies and its predecessor companies have previously worked with Alabama Power to recycle coal ash from other coal-fired plants, including Plants Gaston, Gorgas and Miller. More than 12 million tons of coal ash has been sold and recycled from these three facilities.

At Barry, coal ash will be prepared for recycling using an on-site processing facility constructed, operated and maintained by Eco Material. The new facility is expected to be in service by January 2026. 

Coal ash is a byproduct of burning coal in power plants that, without proper management, can pollute waterways, groundwater, drinking water and the air. Coal ash contains contaminants like mercury, cadmium, chromium, and arsenic associated with cancer and various other serious health effects.

Last May the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed a rule that would require the safe management of coal ash dumped in areas that are currently unregulated at the federal level.

These areas include inactive power plants with coal ash ponds no longer being used and historical coal ash disposal areas at plants with regulated coal ash units. The proposal, announced by the EPA on May 17, is not expected to affect current power plant operations.

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