Contact: Amelia Shenstone, SACE, 339-223-0536, [email protected]
Atlanta, Ga. — Today, Georgia Power announced updates to its coal ash pit closure plan. The utility announced in April that it would be closing all 29 of its ash pits, but gave few details on the manner of closure. Today’s update increases the number of pits whose contents will be excavated, from 4 to sixteen; significantly expedites the timeline; and promises (but does not yet detail) engineering practices at pits where ash is left in place to separate it from ground and surface water and monitor for nearby contamination.
Coal ash is the toxic remains of coal after it’s burned to produce electricity. It contains dangerous heavy metals including arsenic and lead that can leach into surface and groundwater, potentially contaminating drinking water supplies. Many southeastern utilities plan to place a liner on top of their coal ash pits and leave the ash where it is, contaminating groundwater, presumably forever, a practice known as closure in place or cap in place.
In response to today’s announcement, Amelia Shenstone, Campaigns Director for the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, made this statement:
“Georgia Power’s new coal ash cleanup plan appears to be a very positive development. It is a step in the right direction to move from unlined wet storage to lined, dry storage. Removing this festering problem from public waterways is a critical step for protecting human health and the environment. While we look forward to digesting the details of today’s announcement, there is potential that this plan demonstrates real leadership among utilities in the Southeast.
“We feel that our concerns have been heard: coal ash must be stored in dry, lined facilities away from waterways. Generally, using such landfills at the power plant site, when it is feasible to do so, can prevent additional communities from bearing the brunt of this toxic pollution.
“Coal ash is too risky for Georgia Power to leave it in place without groundwater protections. We commend the company for taking a comprehensive approach to reducing the risk to Georgia’s people and environment as it continues to transition away from coal.”
About Southern Alliance for Clean Energy
Founded in 1985, the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy is a nonprofit organization that promotes responsible energy choices that work to address the impacts of global climate change and ensure clean, safe, and healthy communities throughout the Southeast. Learn more at www.cleanenergy.org.