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Environmental advocates question Georgia Power coal ash plan

Environmental advocates are calling into question Georgia Power’s plan for closing ash ponds adjacent to coal-burning power plants.

Georgia Power is proposing to leave coal ash in contact with groundwater at plants Scherer, McDonough, Yates, and Hammond. Georgia Power’s request to recover $400 million from ratepayers during the next three years for ash pond cleanup is part of a $9 billion multiyear plan.

The utility intends to close all 29 of its ash ponds located at 11 coal plants across the state as it reduces its reliance on coal for power generation due to both tighter government regulation and market conditions. Coal ash contains contaminants including mercury, cadmium and arsenic that can pollute groundwater and drinking water as well as air.

Environmental advocates cite a recent decision by the EPA denying an Ohio utility’s request to leave coal ash at a closed pond in contact with groundwater and say that Georgia Power customers will suffer if the company moves ahead with its cleanup plan without considering the Ohio case.

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