Alabama Power steam plant equipment finds new home as fish habitat in the Gulf

Alabama Power steam plant equipment finds new home as fish habitat in the Gulf
A new artificial reef made of three old Alabama Power storage tanks was deployed Thursday off the Alabama Gulf Coast. (Danny Hamm / Alabama Power)

Alabama Power and the Alabama Wildlife Federation (AWF) are working together to provide a new place to fish off the Alabama coast.

The two deployed an artificial reef Thursday about 8 miles off the coast of Dauphin Island. The reef is made of three repurposed tanks from Barry Steam Plant near Mobile. The tanks, which were used to produce electricity, had reached the end of their service at the plant and were recently replaced with upgraded equipment as a part of regular maintenance.

“Alabama Power is very pleased to partner with the Alabama Wildlife Federation to deploy this artificial reef,” said Environmental Affairs Vice President Susan Comensky. “We are excited about the new AWF Nearshore Artificial Reef Zone and look forward to seeing it fully develop.”

Alabama Power storage tanks become new fish habitats from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

The reef is the first of 26 artificial reefs to be deployed in AWF’s new Build-Out Plan for its Nearshore Artificial Reef Zone. Gov. Kay Ivey and the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources named the reef zone in 2019 in honor of AWF’s long-standing work in support of Alabama artificial reefs. The zone encompasses 7.5 square miles of ocean 8 miles south of Dauphin Island in waters 60-70 feet deep.

“Alabama Wildlife Federation has worked collaboratively with a variety of partners for two decades to support Alabama’s world-class artificial reef system, which provides both ecological benefits for marine life as well as enhanced opportunities for anglers,” said AWF Executive Director Tim Gothard. “We are excited about the new Build-Out Plan developed in conjunction with Alabama Marine Resources, and we appreciate Alabama Power working in partnership with us to establish the first of the 26 new reefs in the plan.”

The new reef is the second reef project aided by Alabama Power. The first involved two old boilers from Barry Steam Plant that were deployed in the Gulf in 2016. Divers in January found the reef teeming with life.

“We’ve sunk tanks, barges and concrete pyramids, but when we can get companies like this that will work together to take that which might otherwise have been sent to a landfill or that was scrapped a different way, that will go out here and perpetually produce fish, we think that is a much more environmentally-friendly way to dispose of things,” said Chris Blankenship, commissioner of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. “We’re very thankful for those partnerships.”

The three tanks are about 30 feet from each other, and are located at the following coordinates:

30 05 296, 88 15 541

30 05 300, 88 15 547

30 05 307, 88 15 549

To learn more about Alabama’s artificial reefs, visit alreefs.com.

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