At first, environmental groups supported Georgia Power's decision to close down 29 of its toxic ponds. Then, the Sierra Club notified the power plant that it plans to file a lawsuit alleging that violations of the federal Clean Water Act may cause dangerous water pollution. Part of the controversy arose because the Sierra Club claims that the power plant does not have the proper permits to remove the contaminated water from the ponds.
The other part of the controversy surrounds the fact that removing the contaminated water may cause toxins and toxic metals such as arsenic and mercury to leech into the groundwater, which would end up in rivers and lakes. Apparently, the water at the bottom of the pond is more contaminated. Dredging it up could ultimately cause harm to wildlife and people in the area.
It is also claimed that Georgia Power is already violating the Clean Water Act. The Sierra Club says that ponds at another plant are being emptied illegally. Heavy metals such as chromium, mercury and others were found in monthly samples since the plant began that work in Dec. 2016. An injunction may be sought to stop any activities until the matter is resolved.
Environmental groups and government agencies take any potential for water pollution seriously. If it is determined that Georgia Power is in violation of the federal Clean Water Act, it could face sanctions from state and federal officials. When companies face situations such as this, it would more than likely be beneficial to involve an attorney as soon as possible.
Source: ajc.com, "Sierra Club plans lawsuit over Georgia Power plants' wastewater", Russell Grantham, July 24, 2017