Appeal of Coal-Fired Plant Washington in Court

Guest Blog | September 8, 2010 | Press Releases

For Immediate Release: September13, 2010


Groups challenging Plant WashingtonPermit Go to Court in Atlanta this Week

Atlanta, GA – On September 13, 2010, Judge Ronit Walkerwill hear a challenge to an air quality permit issued for Plant Washington, an850 megawatt coal-fired power plant proposed near Sandersville, Georgia. Themajority of the electricity from the plant would be sold to Electric MembershipCorporations (EMCs) in the metro-Atlanta area. The hearing will be held in theOffice of State Administrative Hearings at 230 Peachtree Street, NW. GreenLaw and the Southern Environmental Law Center represent thepetitioners.

At issue is whether the state set the emissions limits inthe permit according to the law for such pollutants as metals and organichazardous air pollutants, dioxins and furans, and course particulatematter. Judge Walker has already ruled in favor of the petitioners’challenges to two water-related permits, sending those permits back toGeorgia’s Environmental Protection Division for further review.

“Conveniently, Power4Georgians claims it will emit4.951micrograms per cubic meter of coarse particulate matter, within a hair’sbreadth of the 5.0 level that would require significant additional modeling. To skip the full modeling study, P4G relied on weather conditions thatincluded measurements from Centreville, AL, which is about 250 miles away,failed to account for worst-case scenarios in daily air pollution emissions,and took credit for an aggressive level of dust reduction based on anon-existent dust control plan. When those mistakes and others are fixed,this plant could violate health based air quality standards.”

“This is a bad deal for everyone but Dean Alford,” saidColleen Kiernan, Georgia Chapter Director of the Sierra Club. “Those EMCcustomers get stuck with a risky investment and Washington County lungs filterdangerous air pollutants. It doesn’t make sense when OglethorpePower has enormous excess capacity in at least six natural gas-fired powerplants that are already built.”

A major concern voiced by the groups involved in the lawsuit is the impact of these air pollutants on people’s health near thecoal-fired power plant.

“Justlast week a new report showed us that Georgia already bears significant burdenfrom air pollution from coal-fired power plants, which are estimated to cause536 deaths, 396 hospital admissions, and 728 heart attacks per year.” saidUlla-Britt Reeves, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. “These are severe,existing health impacts and illustrate that we do not need another pollutingcoal plant in our state. It’s high time that GA EPD take a stand to protectpublic health and not the interests of the coal industry.”

“A coal-fired plant will greatly increase the respiratoryproblems for elderly people and young children. Different chemicals in thepollution from coal-fired coal plants irritate the lungs and cause asthma andemphysema. Small particles even get into the blood stream and can cause heartattacks and strokes,” said Dr. Karen Kinsell, an internist in Fort Gaines,GA.

A local community group, Fall-line Alliance for a CleanEnvironment, has significant concerns over this air pollution from the coalplant affecting churches and historical structures near the proposedindustry. “The fabric of our community is held together by our histories.We know that sulfur dioxide has been proven to erode historical markers incemeteries and we don’t want that to happen to our historic buildings and oldgravesites, some of which are over 150 years old,” said Katherine Cummings.

“It’s a shame that the Georgia Environmental ProtectionDivision has issued permits that would allow this permit to dump tons ofhazardous pollutants into our air that threaten our families’ health and ourability to use controlled burns to manage our timber stands,” said ChandraBrown, Ogeechee Riverkeeper. “Georgia’s timber industry produces jobsthat are important to our south Georgia community.”

A recording of a webinar on the legal, health, and forestryrelated concerns is available with audio and slides is available at

COURT IN SESSION: Mondays &Thursdays, 9:30 a.m. -2:30 p.m. and Tuesdays & Wednesdays, 9:30 -5:00 p.m.,for two to three weeks


ColleenKiernan, Georgia Chapter of the Sierra Club, 404.992.9745

Ulla-BrittReeves, SACE, 828.254.6776

ChandraBrown, Ogeechee Riverkeeper, 912.764.2017

KatherineHelms Cummings, FACE, 478.232.8010

BrianGist, Southern Environmental Law Center, 404.521.9900

MidgeSweet, Georgians for Smart Energy 404.668.5430

JustineThompson, GreenLaw 404.659.3122

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