Dec 13, 2018

Coal Ash Causing Issues in Georgia

Georgia Power coal ash ponds are unsafe due to high levels of arsenic, boron, cobalt, molybdenum and sulfate

Georgia Power coal ash ponds are unsafe due to high levels of arsenic, boron, cobalt, molybdenum and sulfate
Georgia Power coal ash ponds are unsafe due to high levels of arsenic, boron, cobalt, molybdenum and sulfate.

A recent report from the Environmental Integrity Project and Earthjustice claims groundwater at Plant Hammond in Georgia is unsafe. According to the report, Georgia Power coal ash ponds are unsafe due to high levels of arsenic, boron, cobalt, molybdenum and sulfate. It also cites high levels of boron and sulfate in the groundwater supply in the area of Plant Bowen at Euharlee outside of Cartersville.

According to the Rome News-Tribune, arsenic is known to cause some cancers and neurological brain damage. Boron causes development issues in human, such as low birth weight and stunted growth.

According to the report, Ash Pond 1 at Plant Hammond has high concentrations of arsenic and molybdenum. It also alleges that Georgia Power’s closure plan for Ash Pond 3 involves dewatering the ash and pacing a cover over remaining material.

"This ash pond currently contains over 1.2 million cubic yards  of ash buried 44 ft deep into the ground next to the Coosa River. If the ash is in contact with underlying groundwater, toxic contaminants will continue to leak indefinitely into the groundwater after the cap is installed. The polluted groundwater is likely to flow offsite into the nearby Coosa River just a few hundred ft from the pond,” said the report, according to Rome News-Tribune.

The utility is using teams of third party engineers to develop specific plans for each ash pond at the 12 sites all over the state.

"Ash Pond 3 is closed in place but not just simply closed in place. We're adding additional features as part of that closure in the form of advanced engineering methods to ensure that, at the end of the closure, that it will produce results that result in groundwater protection over the long haul," said Aaron Mitchell, general manager for environmental affairs at Georgia Power, to Rome News-Tribune. "Then we're going to monitor that around the ash pond, provide that information to EPD, all under their oversight, for 30 years after its closed."

The report also said the closure plan for the largest ash disposal pond at Plant Bowen also involves dewatering and leaving more than 21 million cubic yards in place. According to the Rome News-Tribune, the environmental group cites a 2002 sinkhole issue at the site which resulted in the spill of more than two million lb of ash into a tributary of Etowah River.

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