ALBANY — With members of the state legislature and residents in communities located near Georgia Power Co.’s 12 decommissioned coal-fired power plants — including Plant Mitchell near the Dougherty-Mitchell County line — expressing concern about the utility’s plan to clean up coal ash, the fine residue left when coal is burned to produce power, it’s not difficult to deduce where the rumors started.
With social media fanning the flames, a number of southwest Georgia residents insisted in recent days that the toxic coal ash residue at Plant Mitchell — and possibly other state plants where the cleanup of some 100 million tons of the residue is currently being discussed by Georgia Power officials, state legislators and environmental groups — was being diverted to the Dougherty County landfill for disposal.
However, one Dougherty County official who is well-versed in the language of waste management — Assistant Dougherty Administrator Scott Addison — told The Albany Herald that the rumors have no basis in truth.
“We have not at any time, nor will we receive any coal ash from Plant Mitchell or any other plant,” Addison said. “There have been new regulations put in place in the last few years concerning coal ash disposal, and that kicked things up to a new level, environmentally. In fact, we had to tell the state whether or not we planned to accept coal ash at our landfill.
“There are a whole different set of regulations for coal ash disposal, and that’s not something we’re willing to do. We consciously made the decision — and informed the state — that we would not accept coal ash at our facility.”
Addison was director of the Dougherty Landfill before taking the assistant administrator position with the county. Before he took over the job, current County Administrator Mike McCoy directed operations at the landfill.
Addison said that while he has no idea where rumors of coal ash being stored at the county landfill might have started, there is a connection with Plant Mitchell and the Dougherty facility.
“We did take some of the construction demolition materials from Plant Mitchell, but it had nothing to do with the coal ash,” the Dougherty official said.
Addison also noted that the county landfill had taken bio-ash burned at the biomass plant located on the Procter & Gamble campus. But, he noted, that byproduct is nothing like coal ash residue.
“We took ash (from the biomass plant) for a period, and just to make sure (it didn’t harm the environment or seep into the area’s water supply), we put it in a lined facility,” Addison said. “But most of that byproduct is being land-applied now. That should give you an idea of how environmentally safe it is; that bio-ash is being land-applied by farmers as fertilizer.”