ATLANTA, April 18, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Georgia Power continues to make progress towards the closure of seven ash ponds at Plant Yates with the dewatering process scheduled to begin in mid-May. Dewatering marks a significant step towards completing the closure process, and Georgia Power's ash pond closure plan for Plant Yates is specifically designed for the site to help ensure water quality is protected every step of the way.
Four of the ash ponds nearest the river at Plant Yates are to be completely excavated with the ash consolidated with the remaining three ponds, which will be closed in place using advanced engineering methods and technologies. Ash pond closures are site-specific and consider multiple factors, such as pond size, location, geology and amount of material; and each closure is certified by a team of independent, professional engineers.
"As we begin the dewatering process at Plant Yates, we are pleased with the progress we have made on our ash pond closure process throughout the state at all of our plants," said Dr. Mark Berry, vice president of Environmental & Natural Resources for Georgia Power. "We continue to focus on safety and meeting all compliance requirements throughout the process to fulfill our longstanding commitment to protect the environment and local communities. We have invested in appropriate water treatment systems to help ensure that our dewatering process is protective of the area's rivers. Throughout the process, clear communication to our customers and the community about our progress remains a priority."
The ash pond dewatering plan for Plant Yates that has been approved by the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) identifies the enhanced 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 on-site closure methods will be permitted and regulated by the EPD.
To date, the company has removed two of the seven ash ponds at Plant Yates, completed engineering and feasibility studies and filed permit applications with the EPD for the remaining ash ponds on site. Communication regarding the closure plan is provided through EPD notifications, advance public notice of permits and updates to local homeowners and local media. To read more about Plant Yates's ash pond closure and dewatering process, click here.
Georgia Power first announced its plans to permanently close all of its ash ponds in September 2015, with initial plans released in June 2016. 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.
In November 2018, Georgia Power completed the submission of 29 Coal Combustion Residuals (CCR) permit applications as required by the Georgia CCR rule for ash ponds and landfills. These permit applications outlined significant and detailed engineering information about Georgia Power's ash pond closure plans and landfill operations plans. The permitting application process was developed and completed with significant internal and external resources supported by multiple third-party consulting and engineering firms.
Georgia Power's ash pond closure plans fully comply with the federal 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 ensure ash pond closures are protective of water quality.
In 2016, the company announced that all ash ponds will stop receiving coal ash in three years and the significant construction work necessary to accommodate the dry-handling of ash is on track to be completed in 2019. Today, more than 60 percent of the coal ash Georgia Power produces is recycled for various beneficial uses, such as Portland cement, concrete and cinder blocks.
Protecting Water Quality Throughout Ash Pond Closure Process
Since 2016, Georgia Power has installed approximately 500 groundwater monitoring wells, including 45 wells at Plant Yates, around its ash ponds and 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. The company continues to post testing results on Georgia Power's website and report them to the EPD. Based on the extensive data collected, the company has identified no risk to public health or drinking water.
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. The dewatering process marks a significant step towards completing the ash pond closure process and has begun at four of Georgia Power's plants: Bowen, McDonough, McManus and Branch, with Plant Yates scheduled to begin in mid-May.
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 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 and tax and other laws and regulations to which Georgia Power Company is subject, as well as changes in application of existing laws and regulations; 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; 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