Citizens, activists speak out at Albany coal ash hearing

Citizens, activists speak out at Albany coal ash hearing
Georgia Power and enviromental groups spoke at the event (Source:WALB)
The permit pertains to coal ash wastewater (Source:WALB)
The permit pertains to coal ash wastewater (Source:WALB)

South Georgians and others concerned about pollutants entering the Flint River from coal ash ponds at Plant Mitchell spoke out Thursday.

The Georgia Environmental Protection Division held a public hearing at Albany Technical College.

Officials with the EPD will use the testimony to make a decision as to whether to approve the permit.

Homeowners, environmental groups and others want to make sure a permit draft allowing Georgia Power to put treated coal ash pond waste water into the Flint River would keep the river safe and clean.

"Its frustrating, now, to be faced with a permit that allows for a plan to be written that we will get to see whats in the plan after Georgia Power agree whats going to be in it," Flint Riverkeeper Gordon Rogers said, during the public comment session.

Rogers said not enough information has been given to public about how the company plans to treat the water, which could contain oils, metals and other harmful substances.

"I regret that Chris has to be here and that we're lawyered up and ready to go to the mat on this, but perhaps that's the way it needs to be," Rogers said.

Several others in the room discussed their hope to get more details.

Those at Georgia Power said they plan on releasing information, following pollutant guidelines and measuring their impact on the river.

"All the things I talked about that we're posting on our website," Georgia Power Environmental Affairs Manager Aaron Mitchell said. "We would not do if we were not comfortable that we were preceding in the right course of action."

Eventually, representatives said they wish to remove all coal ash from Plant Mitchell, but that getting rid of the waste water on top is a step that needs to be taken to do that.

"We are committed to ensuring that we perform these activities as members of the community," Mitchell said.

That's something you can bet water protection groups will have a careful eye out for as well.

You can also submit testimony via email or mail through May 8, 2017.

Contact information is as follows:

Mail, Enviromental Protection Division Watershed Protection Branch, Attn: Audra Dickson, 2 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, Suite 1152 East, Atlanta, GA 30334

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