Coal has been a source of power across the country for quite some time. When many Georgia residents turn on the lights, it is due to coal. The problem is that burning coal for this purpose produces a great deal of coal ash. In order to combat pollution from this problem, cleanup efforts are in progress. However, some believe those efforts are inadequate.
The coal ash contains byproducts such as arsenic, mercury and lead, which could harm people as well as the environment. Up until now, Georgia Power has stored its coal ash in ponds that mix the ash with water, which could cause spills, leaks and potentially end up in the groundwater. Very little oversight was used in this process. The ponds did not even contain liners, and the groundwater was not tested to determine whether there was a problem.
Moving forward, the power company will store it dry, instead of wet, and cover it. Even though this may solve some problems, environmentalists are concerned about the ash becoming airborne and inhaled by those in the area. Then there is the issue of cleaning up the ponds. Even though certain protections are said to be in place, mistakes could happen and issues could arise at any number of places in the process.
Companies and municipalities facing these types of cleanup efforts need to make sure that they do so in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations. It does no good to attempt to combat pollution if those efforts fall short of established safety standards. In addition, it could lead to additional legal entanglements that could have potentially serious consequences.
Source: wabe.org, "Coal Ash In Georgia: Cleanup Continues, But Environmentalists Have Concerns", Molly Samuel, Jan. 23, 2018