A substantial lawsuit is currently being considered against Georgia Power, with claims of damage to both health and property. The lawsuit was prompted by a large, unlined coal ash pond located in Monroe County.
In excess of 1,000 pounds of toxic coal ash from the coal-powered plant Plant Scherer is generated daily and placed in the pond; according to the federal Toxic Release Inventory, the pond contains high levels of heavy metals and ash. While uranium can occur naturally in the ground throughout parts of the Piedmont region, it is suspected that the plant’s coal ash is to blame for the high levels found there. Numerous residents in Juliette have high levels of radon inside their homes and uranium in their water, according to tests. Some residents have tested positive for uranium poisoning.
A large coal ash pond spill in 2008 in Tennessee promoted the Environmental Protection Agency to reexamine rules considering coal ash disposal and safety; the EPA is in talks to reclassifying coal ash as a hazardous waste.
Allegedly, employees of Georgia Power have been disposing the plant’s coal ash waste into an unlined pit for 30 years and failing to monitor any effects that disposal may have on the area groundwater. Critics are calling for the plant to increase safety measures and update monitoring systems to ensure the health and well-being of workers and neighbors.
The Georgia Department of Public Health responded to public concerns that Plant Scherer was potentially the cause of uranium and radon contamination by conducting preliminary tests earlier this year. The GDPH concluded that the groundwater contamination which included uranium and other heavy metals likely occurred naturally, but also called for further residential well water testing.
Meanwhile, the spokesman for Georgia Power has stated that while they will not comment on any potential lawsuits, those overseeing Plant Scherer believe it complies with air and water quality standards. He also stated that drinking water well tests on and near the plant showed no violation issues and that the EPA rated the ash pond high during the most recent inspection.
Coal ash is not currently subject to federal protections; according to the EPA, toxins found in coal ash can be linked to cancer, organ disease, respiratory illnesses, and neurological damage. Infants and children, with their developing neurological systems, are far more vulnerable when it comes to the health impacts of coal ash exposure; according to the EPA, more than 1.5 million children currently live near coal ash storage sites.
Community meetings which invite area residents to discuss possible lawsuit action are scheduled for early November.
Nathan Williams is a Brunswick personal injury lawyer, Brunswick divorce attorney, criminal defense and Brunswick DUI lawyer in Southeast Georgia. Visit http://www.thewilliamslitigationgroup.com or call 1.912.264.0848.