Coal Ash Pond Suspected of Causing Illness in Georgia

Some residents in Juliet, Georgia are standing by and watching as neighborhood houses are bought up and torn down, according to this CNN article. The problem stems from a neighborhood that appears to have high rates of illness. The suspected cause of that illness is contamination that’s getting into the local water supply from one of the largest coal-fired power plants in the world.

Plant Scherer is managed by Georgia Power, which owns a potion of it. There are five other stakeholders that include other power companies and some municipalities, including one in Florida. Residents and others claim an unlined coal ash storage pond is leaking heavy metals into the environment, including uranium, which has been found in local water wells. In early April, CNN reported that two houses across from the plant had been purchased and that 10 owners of nearby homes said Georgia Power offered to purchase their properties. Owners of the two houses that were purchased had been diagnosed with cancer that was environmentally caused.

One resident, who lives near the plant, says after waking up with nosebleeds and having muscle twitches, he was eventually diagnosed with kidney disease and sclerosis of the liver. He says he doesn’t drink. Later, he had his gallbladder removed, and today needs to have an oxygen tank nearby. Other residents have developed abdominal cancer and a form of dementia. One woman had her hair tested for toxins, since hair is known to store them, and discovered the samples had 68 ppm of uranium. Besides that, her husband developed disfiguring hives and started having kidney problems.

Environmental activist Jeff Stant was surprised and alarmed when one of the wells at one of the homes purchased by Georgia Power was sealed off. Stant claims that’s a red flag for residents, and that it is a similar tactic used by other utility companies where coal ash ponds have contaminated water supplies.

According to the CNN report, Georgia Power maintains that its coal ash ponds meet all local and federal standards and that it is unaware of any health problems around the plant. According to EPA documents, Georgia Power has claimed information about the coal ash impoundments at Plant Scherer to be confidential business information. The EPA is currently reviewing that claim and will either accept or deny it once the review process is complete. Meanwhile, lawsuits are being considered to recover damages for personal injury and to force responsible parties to operate coal ash impoundments safely and to monitor them for potential leaks.