ATLANTA, Feb. 25, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Georgia Power today announced that the dewatering process at Plant Branch is scheduled to begin on March 4. In December, the company announced its plans to initiate the dewatering process at the plant early this year. The dewatering process marks a significant step towards completing the site-specific closure process to completely excavate the ash ponds and store the ash in a new, lined landfill on plant property.
In preparation, Georgia Power has hosted state and local officials, as well as media, on the Plant Branch site for tours and briefings to explain how the new water treatment facility will protect water quality throughout the dewatering process. Plant Branch will be the fourth location to begin dewatering, with the process already underway at three of Georgia Power's plants: Bowen, McDonough and McManus.
The ash pond dewatering plan for Plant Branch was approved by the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) last year and includes use of an independent, third-party accredited laboratory for on-going testing of water quality with those testing results reported to EPD and provided on Georgia Power's website. The water treatment facility operator, licensed by the Secretary of State's Board of Water and Wastewater Treatment Plant Operators, will be present onsite throughout the entire process to oversee the dewatering operations and provide real time monitoring.
"The dewatering process at Plant Branch continues our progress to safely close the ash ponds at the site and is an important part of protecting water quality every step of the way," said Dr. Mark Berry, vice president of Environmental & Natural Resources for Georgia Power. "We have invested in appropriate water treatment systems and third-party accredited laboratory testing to help ensure that this process is protective of the area's lakes and rivers."
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. Ongoing testing will be an integral part of the dewatering process to help ensure water quality is protected. Testing will be conducted at three points through the dewatering process:
- Continuous, real-time monitoring of the water as it is being treated and moves through the system to help ensure the treatment facility is operating effectively. Safeguards in place include automatic shutoff of the system so that the water is retained on site until treatment standards are met.
- Dewatering discharge will be sampled on a weekly basis. The samples will be collected by an independent, third-party contractor and tested by an independent, third-party accredited laboratory. These test reports will be sent to EPD and posted on Georgia Power's website.
- Water samples will be taken from Lake Sinclair twice per month, upstream and downstream of the discharge. These samples will also be sent to the independent, third party accredited laboratory for testing. The test results will be reported to EPD and made available on Georgia Power's website.
To read more about Plant Branch's ash pond closure and dewatering process, click here.
Protecting Water Quality Throughout Ash Pond Closure Process
Since 2016, Georgia Power has installed approximately 500 groundwater monitoring wells around its ash ponds and on-site landfills to actively monitor groundwater quality. Monitoring is being conducted in compliance with federal and state laws and regulations. The company has also engaged independent, third-party contractors for sampling and accredited independent laboratories for analysis. Based on the extensive data collected, the company has identified no risk to public health or drinking water.
To date, the company has removed one of the five ash ponds at Plant Branch, completed engineering and feasibility studies and filed permit applications with EPD for the remaining ash ponds at Plant Branch. The planned on-site lined landfill will be permitted and regulated by EPD.
Georgia Power first announced its plans to permanently close all of its ash ponds in September 2015, and in June 2016 outlined plans to safely close all 29 ash ponds at 11 active and retired coal-fired power plant sites across the state. The company is in the process of completely excavating 19 ash ponds located adjacent to lakes and rivers with the remaining 10 being closed in place using advanced engineering methods and closure technologies.
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 2.5 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 consistently recognized by J.D. Power and Associates 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 the method and timing of planned closure of coal ash ponds. Georgia Power Company cautions that there are certain factors that could 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 Company; accordingly, there can be no assurance that such suggested results will be realized. The following factors, in addition to those discussed in Georgia Power Company's Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2018, 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 environmental laws and regulations governing air, water, land, and protection of other natural resources, and also changes in tax (including federal tax reform legislation) and other laws and regulations to which Georgia Power Company is subject, as well as changes in application of existing laws and regulations; the extent and timing of costs and liabilities to comply with federal and state laws, regulations and legal requirements related to coal combustion residuals, including amounts for required closure of ash ponds and ground water monitoring; 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; the ability to construct facilities in accordance with the requirements of permits and licenses and to satisfy any environmental performance standards; state and federal rate regulations and the impact of pending and future rate cases and negotiations, including rate actions relating to return on equity, equity ratios and fuel and other 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 pronouncements issued periodically by standard-setting bodies. Georgia Power Company expressly disclaims any obligation to update any forward-looking information.
SOURCE Georgia Power