Coal ash disposal is an important area of environmental concern here in Georgia. Because coal ash can be toxic to human populations, it is critical that it is carefully handled and disposed. Over 130 million tons of coal ash is produced every year in the United States, and is usually disposed by dumping it in bodies of water called coal ash ponds.
In 2014, the Environmental Protection Agency passed regulations requiring that coal companies to conduct routine testing of coal ash ponds to monitor toxin levels and to close down ponds which have excessively high levels. As we’ve previously noted, Georgia Power has been significantly affected by the new regulations.
Last fall, Georgia Power announced that it would be closing down a total of 29 coal ash ponds in order to come into compliance with the new regulations. Recently, the energy company has announced details about its closure plans, and concern is building among environmental groups.
Georgia Power’s news release indicated that the closure methods are site-specific and depend on various factors, such as the location and size of the pond, the geology of the area, and the amount of waste material. Groundwater around the ponds will be monitored and reported to the Georgia Environmental Protection Division and the company’s website, and independent engineers will reportedly be used
In our next post, we’ll look at some of the concerns raised by environmentalists with the company’s release of closure plans.