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Juliette residents discuss coal ash pond solutions

Altamaha Riverkeepers briefed people in Juliette after a meeting with Georgia Power representatives on Plant Scherer's coal ash ponds.

FORSYTH, Ga. — At Monday night's meeting, Altamaha Riverkeepers briefed people in Juliette after a meeting with Georgia Power representatives on Plant Scherer's coal ash ponds.

In the meeting, Altamaha Riverkeeper used jars full of water to demonstrate the impact of an unlined closure for a coal ash pond. 

Credit: WMAZ

Michael Pless said, "I consider this to be an evil -- they're willing to let this go."

The group is still working to gain support on a new bill they are trying to pass through the Georgia Assembly that changes how the power plant closes the ponds. 

If the bill doesn't make it, Karl Cass says, "Then not only will my children, your children, and your children's children, will continue to fight heavy toxins."

A group of Juliette neighbors sat down with Georgia power representatives last week to discuss the plans to close the ponds and Juliette's access to water.

They left the meeting disappointed, including Gini Seitz. "They talked over our heads and tried to explain away how cobalt and hexavalent chromium are naturally occurring in the rock beneath our homes."

Georgia House Representative over Milledgeville Rick Williams came to the meeting because of his experience with Plant Branch. 

He spoke to the people in Juliette saying, "I don't care that you're not in my district, you're somebody that needs help. I'm here to help you. I want to help you."

They were able to change the utility company's plans on how they closed the plant in Milledgeville. Georgia Power to excavate and line the coal ash ponds before closure at Plant Branch.

"$12,216,998. Have y'all looked at the salaries of the Southern Company executives?" asked Williams to the crowd. 

Williams discussed other solutions for the people in Juliette. 

He said, "You need countywide water. You have a situation, regardless of how it got there, you've got a problem -- you need water."

County Commissioner John Ambrose said it would cost the people money. "We've only got one way to get the water to them, and I hate to say this, but that's raise the millage rate."

People in the crowd said they need the water now, "not a year from now, not five years from now -- we need it now. This ash pond thing, we can deal with that, but we need water."

Fletcher Sams with Altamaha Riverkeeper read a letter from Georgia House Representative Dale Washburn, saying:

"I am deeply concerned about the evidence of potentially dangerous elements in the water in private wells in the area around Plant Scherer, and the question of how coal ash should be handled. I have been carefully studying the issue and the legislation and will announce my position on the best course of legislative action by Friday, February 21, 2020."

Sams says if the bill doesn't move forward, he anticipates that Georgia Power's plans to close the coal ash ponds without a liner protecting groundwater will be approved around August.

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