Alabama Power to pay $222K over chemical spill, dead fish

PARRISH, Ala. (AP) — Alabama Power Company has agreed to pay about $222,000 to settle a chemical spill that killed hundreds of fish near its coal-fired plant about 30 miles northwest of Birmingham, according to a notice Wednesday from the Alabama Department of Environmental Management.

More than 500 fish were found dead in March, days after about 700 gallons of flame retardant spilled into Baker Creek near the now-shuttered plant in Parrish, the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources said.

The proposed consent order includes a $50,000 civil penalty and compensation of about $172,000 based on the number of fish reportedly killed.

The number of dead fish “is considered to be conservative and underestimates damages,” according to the ADCNR report.

The agency’s investigators went to the plant March 29 after receiving a call about the dead fish. The investigators were ordered by Alabama Power personnel to leave because they weren’t carrying official state identification. Many fish had been removed from the water when they returned a few hours later, the report states.

Alabama Power spokesman Michael Sznajderman told that the company removed some of the dead fish after the spill.

“When we saw dead fish in the immediate area, we removed them so they would not become a nuisance or potentially affect human health,” Sznajderman said. “We disposed of them properly.”

The proposed consent order failed to account for the removal of fish by Alabama Power, according to Black Warrior Riverkeeper Nelson Brooke. Baker Creek is connected to the Black Warrior River.

“The $50,000 ADEM penalty is a mere slap on the wrist that Alabama Power is happy to agree to, without any admission of wrongdoing,” Brooke said.

There is no admission of liability by Alabama Power, according to the proposed consent order.