Georgia Power is in the process of closing its 29 coal ash ponds, said Aaron Mitchell, general manager of environmental affairs for Georgia Power in an August interview with the AJC. Some plans for closing the ponds would leave the coal ash in unlined ash ponds.
Other states have taken a different path.
Earlier this month, Duke Energy agreed to one of the largest clean-up efforts in the country when it announced it would close the majority of its coal ash basins in North Carolina by excavating 80 million tons of ash and moving it into lined landfills.
The Georgia bill targets the unlined ponds at five Georgia Power plants and would require them to also be excavated and moved into lined pits, said Fletcher Sams, Executive Director of the Altamaha Riverkeeper.
Of the five plants, Plant Scherer in Juliette, just north of Macon, is of particular concern to residents and environmental advocates.
“Everyone that lives in the area is drinking well water ... The same stuff leaking out of the ponds is in the wells in the surrounding areas,” said Sams.
Riverkeeper testing has revealed levels of chromium-6 (the cancer-causing chemical made famous by Erin Brockovich) at levels exceeding the limits set by other states, Sams said.