Coal Ash Pond Worries Neighbors as Georgia Power Buys, Levels Homes
A coal-fired power plant in Georgia has neighbors worried about the consequences of its ash-disposal pond.
"The home among the trees was supposed to be Mark Goolsby's inheritance. His 78-year-old mother now lives in the large, white, wood farmhouse that his family built before the Civil War.
But Goolsby says he'll never live there now.
That's because across the street and through those trees is one of the largest coal ash ponds in the country. It belongs to Plant Scherer, a coal-fired plant that came to the neighborhood considerably later than the Goolsby family. In the mid-1970s, Goolsby said, 'when (Georgia Power) bought 350 acres from my dad, they told him we'd never know they were there.'
Those acres are now part of an unlined pond where Georgia Power deposits about 1,000 pounds of toxic coal ash a day. Neither federal nor Georgia rules require groundwater monitoring around the pond. The federal Toxic Release Inventory shows that in 2010 alone, the pond received ash containing thousands of pounds of heavy metals and radioactive compounds including arsenic, vanadium, and chromium.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that up to 1 in 50 residents nationally who live near ash ponds could get cancer from the arsenic leaking into wells. The EPA also predicts that unlined ash ponds can increase other health risks, such as damage to the liver, kidneys and central nervous system, from contaminants such as lead."
S. Heather Duncan reports for the Macon Telegraph April 14, 2012.