Georgia Power recently found evidence that chemicals leaked into groundwater at three of its coal-fired power plants, including Plant Yates near Newnan.
Beryllium and selenium were found to exceed state levels in two groundwater wells at Plant Yates, and arsenic was discovered above the state level at a well at Plant Hammond in Rome and Plant McIntosh on the Savannah River. Georgia Power has installed more than 130 groundwater-monitoring wells.
The wells are part of a groundwater-monitoring program required by federal coal ash rules, which is part of the company’s closing of its 29 ash ponds. According to officials with Georgia Power, groundwater samples from 136 wells were tested for 19 different substances, and 132 wells were found to meet the Georgia groundwater standards. The six plants that had groundwater testing are Plant Bowen, Hammond, McIntosh, Scherer, Wansley and Yates.
Georgia Power General Manager of Environmental Affairs Aaron Mitchell said they are trying to determine where the chemicals came from.
“Not only are we moving towards closing ash ponds, but we’re conducting groundwater monitoring around all our ash ponds,” Mitchell said. “This is just the first round for six of our plants. The Environmental Protection Agency requires us to have eight separate sampling events at each site, and this is the first of eight rounds.
“It’s important to note that our testing helped confirm the substances are completely contained on our plant property.”
Mitchell said the rounds must be complete by October 2017 and results were reported to the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD).
Twelve of the 29 ash ponds will be closed in less than two years and nearly all of the others between six and 10 years.