Georgia Power to close dozens of coal ash lagoons over next decade

Georgia Power said Tuesday it plans to a dozen coal ash ponds at six power plants in the state within two years, but that it may take up to 10 years to close 16 other storage ponds.

Another pond may not be closed for up to 14 years.

After questioning last year by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution about the safety of its coal ash lagoons, Georgia Power pledged last fall to eventually close all of its coal ash ponds and to release a schedule within several months.

The electric utility, which is owned by Atlanta-based Southern Co., disclosed the details Tuesday as part of that pledge.

The dozen ponds slated for closure over the next two years are at Georgia Power’s Branch, Hammond, Kraft, McDonough, Yates and McManus plants.

“Our primary focus throughout the closure process is maintaining a reliable generation fleet, while conducting the closure process in the most efficient way possible,” said Dr. Mark Berry, vice president of environmental affairs for Georgia Power, in a press release.

Coal-ash disposal has become a re-hot issue in the wake of tighter federal environmental rules on how the potentially toxic material is handled.

Most privately operated disposal facilities in Georgia have stopped accepting coal ash, and some have been discovered to be leaking toxic metals in the soil and ground water.