Georgia Power wants to move coal ash surface water into Lake Sinclair

Georgia Power to move ash water to lake

Georgia Power wants to consolidate its five ash ponds at the closed Plant Branch in Milledgeville down to one, but they say that requires them to remove surface water from those ponds into Lake Sinclair.

Some people who use the lake as their primary source for drinking water are concerned about that, like State Representative Rick Williams.

"Check it at different levels…see what the arsenic content or the heavy metals content would be in this water before it's released into the lake,” said Williams.

Our Jobie Peeples spoke with Georgia Power and the Environmental Protection Division to hear the company's plan for the project.

Georgia Power's Harllee Branch in Milledgeville has been closed for about two years, but they're still working to demolish the old coal-burning plant.

One project in particular has some people in Baldwin and Putnam counties worried.

"I know Baldwin County uses Lake Sinclair for the drinking water and then the more I got to reading the articles about the pollutants that are going to be possibly put into the lake, it got me concerned about the swimming, and the kids being in the lake,” said Ryan Cleveland.

Georgia Power has asked the Environmental Protection Division for permission to release water from five coal ash ponds into Lake Sinclair.

Ryan Cleveland says that's a threat to his family's health.

"I have a two-year-old son. With him swimming and growing up around that water, you know, that's not good. We don't want pollutants in the lake water versus what's already there naturally,” said Cleveland.

John Kraft with Georgia Power says the process is safe.

"Four of the ash ponds that are next to or near water bodies, rivers, lakes, those will be completely removed, completely excavated and then we will consolidate the materials removed in the fifth pond and seal that or close that in place,” said Kraft.

Kraft says the water wouldn't go into the lake as is. He says it would be treated first.

"We will also be installing additional treatment facilities that will treat that water before it's released,” said Kraft.

Jac Capp with the state Environmental Protection Division says the treatment will be thoroughly monitored.

"The treatment system will have continuous monitoring on a couple of parameters to ensure that the system itself is operating properly and if at any point those parameters are not in the range that they should be, the system will shut down and the water will be returned to the ponds,” said Capp.

Kraft says if approved, Georgia Power would hire a large water treatment company to install the system that will pump the water into the lake.

Capp says the proposal is in the early stages and needs state approval. He says EPD wants to community input next week before they decide.

Cleveland says he plans to make his voice heard.

"Let us know what Georgia Power's plan is, A-Z, step by step, what exactly the plan is. What is EPD's plan to regulate it and monitor and make sure things are done correctly to standards that we have set,” said Cleveland.

Williams is holding a town hall meeting for the community on Saturday, June 24, from 10 a.m. to noon at Victory Baptist Church in Eatonton.

© 2017 WMAZ-TV


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