Approximately 100 people showed up at the EPD hearing located in Rome Wednesday for a hearing to discuss the water withdrawal permits used at Plant Hammond a Southern Company coal burning power plant at the Rome-Floyd ECO Center.
Several of the locals that showed up asked to see the Environmental Protection Division unleash tougher regulations as Georgia Power seeks to renewal its discharge permit into the Coosa River and Smith Cabin Creek.
Al Hodge the President of the Rome Floyd Chamber of Commence committed on the facts that GP has been helpful in paying taxes that support our schools and government.GP has also employed a lot of people in Floyd county and has helped support Economic Development. The vast majority of the speakers felt the EPD was not doing enough to protect Floyd County and its citizens, Cherokee Alabama County Commission Chair Kirk Day said that Floyd Industry has not been real good for Cherokee Al. and gave The G.E. PCB problems as an example.
This is the issue at hand. Hammond withdraws water from the Coosa and in doing so many fish are caught in the process and die. Then Hammond makes steam to run the plant. Once the steam becomes water again it is discharged back into the Coosa, however, it is much warmer thus killing more fish and in the process there are pollutants that are discharged into the river.
The other issue in the permit process is the closing of the coal ash ponds and how to keep from putting contaminated water into the river. Several factors that GP has to look at are the age of the plant,”2nd oldest in the state” , by far one of the least efficient for producing power on a cost basis. and what will take its place if it is closed to produce the needs for the power grid.
The county of Floyd also has issue’s it must look at, It is a huge tax payer and if the plant is closed who and how will those tax dollars be replaced? The lack of employment of GP employees will effect dollars spent in Floyd County and everything that goes along with jobs to include health insurance, retirement, housing and recreation.
In dealing with the future of Hammond we make note that the Commissar”s have known for quite some time that there has been a possibility of closure and that it could effect up to 5 million dollars of lost revenue between the school system and county government.
General Manager for Environmental Affairs at Georgia Power, Aaron Mitchell, said that the EPD has made the new draft permit more restrictive by expanding monitoring requirements, addressing new federal rules and establishing more rigorous reporting obligations.
Mitchell added that thermal limits for discharges would be based on dynamic conditions in the Coosa River.
Mitchell also said that changes related to dewatering of coal ash ponds requires approval from the EPD at least 90-days prior to commencing water removal activities.
Public comments may be sent to EPDcomments@dnr.state.ga.us
(use “NPDES Permit Issuance — Georgia Power — Plant Hammond” in the subject line) or mailed to Georgia EPD, 2 MLK Jr. Drive, Suite 1152E, Atlanta, GA 30334. The deadline to have them considered is Friday.