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Barry Power Plant, Bucks, Alabama

The James M. Barry Electric Generating Plant, located in Bucks, Alabama, is one of 81 power plants owned by Alabama Power. Using a combination of coal and natural gas, it is capable of generating up to 2,657,200 kilowatts. Unfortunately, it has received extensive criticism for releasing a variety of pollutants into the surrounding area, including the Mobile River.

Environmental Concerns and the Barry Power Plant

Power generated from fossil fuels can create a number of potentially hazardous byproducts. In 2009, a study by the Institute of Southern Studies ranked US power plants by the amount of coal combustion waste they produced. The Barry Power Plant was listed as number 13.

Potentially dangerous waste that has been released by this plant includes:

  • Greenhouse gases: Gases such as carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide can be released in large amounts by power plants that use fossil fuels. In 2006, the Barry Power Plant released over 12 million tons of carbon dioxide and over 16,000 tons of nitrous oxide.
  • Mercury: Mercury is a naturally occurring heavy metal that can be very dangerous when ingested. It is also a common byproduct of coal-powered plants. In 2005, the Barry Power Plant released 881 pounds of mercury into the environment. Over time, mercury can build up in soil and water, contaminating drinking water, fish, and other food sources.

In recent years, the Barry Power Plant has taken steps to reduce its emission of such pollutants. For example, the plant managed to significantly reduce its mercury output in 2008. Additionally, in 2009 the plant began an experimental project to release carbon dioxide underground, rather than releasing it into the air. However, this project was cancelled in March 2010.

Today, environmental groups remain concerned about a variety of health hazards that may be posed by this power plant. Fortunately, Alabama Power continues to look for affordable ways to reduce its plants’ environmental impact.

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