ATLANTA, Jan. 14, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Georgia Power continues to make progress towards the closure of three ash ponds at Plant Mitchell with the dewatering process scheduled to begin in February. Dewatering marks a significant step towards completing the closure process, and Georgia Power's ash pond closure plan for Plant Mitchell is specifically designed for the site to help ensure water quality is protected every step of the way.
"As we begin the dewatering process at Plant Mitchell, we continue to focus on safety and meeting all requirements throughout the process to fulfill our longstanding commitment to protect the environment, our local communities and water quality every step of the way," said Dr. Mark Berry, vice president of Environmental & Natural Resources for Georgia Power. "Throughout the process, clear communication to our customers and the community about our progress remains a priority."
With the Plant Mitchell project, approximately two million tons of stored coal ash will be removed from the existing ash ponds for reuse in Portland cement manufacturing. The project at Plant Mitchell marks the first time that stored ash from existing ash ponds at sites in Georgia will be excavated for beneficial reuse as part of an ash pond closure project.
Today, the company already recycles more than 85 percent of all ash and gypsum, including more than 95 percent of fly ash, it produces from current operations for various beneficial reuses such as concrete production as well as other construction products.
The ash pond dewatering plan for Plant Mitchell has been approved by the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) and describes the water treatment system, controls and monitoring that will be used during the process to help ensure that the water discharged is protective of water quality standards. The planned onsite closure methods are being permitted and regulated by the EPD.
Communication regarding the closure plan is provided through EPD permitting notifications as well as posting on Georgia Power's website. To read more about Plant Mitchell's ash pond closure and dewatering process, click here.
Georgia Power first announced plans to permanently close all of its ash ponds in September 2015, with initial plans released in June 2016. Georgia Power's ash pond closure plans fully comply with the federal Coal Combustion Residuals (CCR) rule, as well as the more stringent requirements of Georgia's state CCR rule. Georgia was one of the first states in the country to develop its own rule regulating management and storage of CCR such as coal ash. The state rule, which goes further than the federal rule, regulates all ash ponds and landfills in the state and includes a comprehensive permitting program through which the EPD will approve all actions to help ensure ash pond closures are protective of water quality.
Protecting Water Quality
Since 2016, Georgia Power has installed more than 550 groundwater monitoring wells around its ash ponds and onsite landfills to actively monitor groundwater quality to help ensure the company is being protective of lakes, rivers and drinking water. In 2020 alone, there were 1,292 groundwater samples collected and 54 groundwater reports completed.
Third-party professional engineers and geologists direct the appropriate placement of monitoring wells for Georgia Power based on site-specific geology. Independent, third-party professionals perform sampling, with analysis by accredited, independent laboratories.
Monitoring is being conducted in compliance with federal and state laws and regulations. The first round of testing was completed with results published in August 2016, more than 18 months ahead of federal requirements, and the company continues to post testing results on Georgia Power's website and report them to the EPD.
The dewatering process marks a significant step towards completing the ash pond closure process and is now underway at seven sites: Plants Bowen, Hammond, McDonough, McManus, McIntosh, Branch and Yates. Georgia Power's commitment to protecting water quality of surface waters, such as lakes and rivers, includes comprehensive and customized dewatering processes during ash pond closures. The company's process treats the water to help ensure that it meets the requirements of the plant's wastewater discharge permits approved by the EPD and is protective of applicable water quality standards.
About Georgia Power
Georgia Power is the largest electric subsidiary of Southern Company (NYSE: SO), America's premier energy company. Value, Reliability, Customer Service and Stewardship are the cornerstones of the Company's promise to 2.6 million customers in all but four of Georgia's 159 counties. Committed to delivering clean, safe, reliable and affordable energy at rates below the national average, Georgia Power maintains a diverse, innovative generation mix that includes nuclear, coal and natural gas, as well as renewables such as solar, hydroelectric and wind. Georgia Power focuses on delivering world-class service to its customers every day and the Company is recognized by J.D. Power as an industry leader in customer satisfaction. For more information, visit www.GeorgiaPower.com and connect with the Company on Facebook (Facebook.com/GeorgiaPower), Twitter (Twitter.com/GeorgiaPower) and Instagram (Instagram.com/ga_power).
Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements
Certain information contained in this release is forward-looking information based on current expectations and plans that involve risks and uncertainties. Forward-looking information includes, among other things, statements concerning ash pond closure and ash removal plans and schedules. Georgia Power cautions that there are certain factors that can cause actual results to differ materially from the forward-looking information that has been provided. The reader is cautioned not to put undue reliance on this forward-looking information, which is not a guarantee of future performance and is subject to a number of uncertainties and other factors, many of which are outside the control of Georgia Power; accordingly, there can be no assurance that such suggested results will be realized. The following factors, in addition to those discussed in Georgia Power's Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2019, Georgia Power's Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q for the quarter ended September 30, 2020 and subsequent securities filings, could cause actual results to differ materially from management expectations as suggested by such forward-looking information: the impact of recent and future federal and state regulatory changes, including tax, environmental, and other laws and regulations to which Georgia Power is subject, as well as changes in application of existing laws and regulations; the extent and timing of costs and legal requirements related to CCR; current and future litigation or regulatory investigations, proceedings, or inquiries; the ability to control costs and avoid cost and schedule overruns during the development, construction and operation of facilities or other projects; advances in technology; state and federal rate regulations and the impact of pending and future rate cases and negotiations, including rate actions relating to cost recovery mechanisms; catastrophic events such as fires, earthquakes, explosions, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes and other storms, droughts, pandemic health events, or other similar occurrences; and the effect of accounting procurements issued periodically by standard-setting bodies. Georgia Power expressly disclaims any obligation to update any forward-looking information.
SOURCE Georgia Power