“All of our plants are operating with active, valid wastewater permits, in full compliance with state regulations,” said Georgia Power spokesman John Kraft. “We actively work with Georgia EPD to renew and update (wastewater) permits for our plants as required.”
In earlier statements, Georgia Power and the environmental regulator said the permits had been "administratively extended" and are still in force. When the groups complained last year that the permits are outdated, a Georgia EPD spokesman said the agency was working on reviewing the permits, but that the process would take a "couple of years."
The environmental groups said some of the permits haven’t been updated in more than 12 years, allowing the company to discharge waste water with excessive levels of mercury, arsenic and other toxic metals into rivers and other waterways.
The groups said the permits for all of the state’s coal-fired plants are 4 to 12 years past original expiration dates.
They asked for the state agency to begin reviewing the wastewater permits at Georgia Power’s Bowen, Hammond, McIntosh, Wansley and Scherer plants.
The other environmental groups that joined in the lawsuit were the Altamaha Riverkeeper, the Coosa River Basin Initiative, and the Savannah Riverkeeper.