Coal Ash, the leftover waste from burning coal, affects Georgian’s health and well-being. Coal Ash contains arsenic, lead, mercury, and other heavy metals. When these chemicals seep into water or soil, it causes health problems for those exposed. As the chart shows, a high number of those individuals are low-income.
Currently, disposal of Coal Ash in Georgia is less regulated than household garbage. Regular garbage must be disposed of in lined landfills, but coal ash dumps do not need to be lined.
Coal Ash has historically been stored in leaky, unlined ponds. Best practices are to store coal ash in lined landfills. Old waste should be moved from unlined ponds into lined landfills as well.
In Georgia, these practices are not law. Several bills are before the house and senate to regulate disposal. The ones requiring lined landfills were not passed. Others are still active:
HB 93 – Serve public notice when pits are drained. This bill is still active.
HB 929 – Require monitoring of all coal ash pits (lined or unlined). This bill is still active.
HB 959 and SB 123 Similar bills to raise the fee on coal ash dumping. Right now, the fee is lower than most other states which causes them to dump their waste in Georgia. This new bill will discourage utilities from other states to dump in Georgia. Both are still active.
SB 382 – Prohibit coal ash landfills near Georgia blackwater rivers. This bill is still active.
HB 1062 – Prohibit coal ash landfills from being near Georgia blackwater rivers. Similar to SB 382. This bill was not passed.
HB 756 and SB 297 Similar bills to require a liner in all coal ash storage pits. These bills were not passed.
To learn more about coal ash please see:
Earth Justice – Report on Georgia groundwater and Coal Ash.
To contact your legislator – please see our How To page for tips, templates, and links to locate your representative and senator. This is a Georgia State issue – contact your Georgia legislators.
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