Early county residents react to proposed coal-burning power plant - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Early Co. residents react to proposed coal-burning power plant

By Nikki Gaskins
January 23, 2006

Early County --  A company wants to build a huge plant in south Georgia that could create hundreds of jobs during construction and more than 100 permanent jobs. So why would anyone oppose it? It's a coal-burning power plant that critics worry will pump out as much pollution as energy.

A large crowd packed this school auditorium tonight. Many worry a new coal-burning plant in Blakely will hurt the environment. "It will be the largest and newest source of pollution to Georgia in decades. The impact to our air, water, and land are dangerous to our health," says environmentalist, Colleen Kierman.

"This coal mine business is going to pollute the atmosphere besides pollution of the river," says Woodrow Williams.

LS Power would buy up to 2,000 acres of land near the Chattahoochee river, though the plant would only use about 65 acres.

Blakely City Councilman "Look at the other pollutants that we already have, there are already signs on the Chattahoochee that say 'don't eat more than one fish a day,'" says councilman, Torre Mills.

Many worry the plant will also create mercury contamination, harming those who live near the plant.

"People living nearby coal plants have a higher rate of death, disease, and cancer," Dr. Ronald Saff.The plant promises to bring more than 100 jobs to the area.

"We're not going to be able to do it with less than that. We have to maintain and operate this facility," says Mike Vogt, with LS Power.

And that's why a few folks believe that if the plant comes to the county, it would only boost it's economy.

"Anything we can do to build up job market and everything like that will help Blakely and help everything," says Thomas Hartley.

While making sure the environment stays safe, The Georgia Environmental Protection Division plans to make sure the proposed plant follows state and federal regulations.

"There will be state of the art air controls on the plant to make sure the emissions meet the Georgia rules," says Jim Ussery with EPD.

But despite LS Power's promises to bring in more jobs and be environmentally friendly, many still hope the plant decides to go elsewhere.

The company hasn't yet submitted draft permits to begin construction. It will take about four years to build the plant. LS Power hopes to begin the building process within the next several months.

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