Created: Thu, 19 Sep 2013 07:11:00 EST
Updated: Fri, 20 Sep 2013 10:17:57 EST
Plant Scherer in Monroe County is gaining some unwanted attention after a report out Thursday claims the coal burning plant is the largest carbon polluter in the nation.
The environment Georgia Research and Policy Center released the information in its report titled “America’s Dirtiest Power Plants.’” The report states Georgia ranks eighth for global warming pollution. The group wants to shed light on carbon emissions and its adverse effect on the environment. Researchers say coal burning plants are the number one source of climate change and pollution in the country and with a proposed power plant to be built in Washington County, the group wants to make people in the state more aware about the issues.
"It's obvious we don't need to be building more dirty coal fire power plants that are going to increase our carbon footprint,” Environment Georgia seat advocate Jennette Gayer said. “We need to be having the conversation on how do we decrease our carbon footprint."
While the group focus one reducing emissions, attorney’s from Macon law firm Gautreaux and Adams filed two lawsuits in Dekalb County Wednesday against the plant. On behalf of 123 Monroe County residents and former residents, the litigation claims the owners of Plant Scherer which is one of the largest coal-fired electric generating plants in the United States harmed the residents’ health and property.
"We know a lot about what is being released, some of the smoke is steam from the cooling towers but there's also the smoke that is the emissions from the stack where their burning coal,” attorney Brian Adams said.
The lawsuit claims the plant and its minority owners knowingly released toxic and cancer causing contaminants into the air and groundwater, mostly carried by coal ash.
Adams said there are 750 acres of unlined coal ash pile that seeps into the ground water.
Some residents like Mandi McMurray, 20, who lives across the street from the backside of the plant says she and her family will only drink bottled water in fear their well is contaminated.
McMurray moved into her Juliette home more than a year ago with her two-year-old son and fiancé. In that time she is now experiencing new health problems.
“I get a lot of headaches and stuff and I've had like random nose bleeds that I've never had before," she said.
Since moving in, all she can do is wonder if the plant is making her sick after hearing of her neighbors medical issues.
"A lot of people have passed (died) and stuff of cancer and stuff that just kind of popped up and stuff like that," McMurray added.
Georgia Power emailed WGXA saying they can't comment on pending litigation. However pointed to a report by the Georgia Department of Public Health and said “the data reviewed by DPH does ‘not indicate that humans are being or have been exposed to levels of contamination that would be expected to cause adverse health effects’ “
However that statement is not comforting to McMurray. She's certain her new health issues now are because of where she lives and is looking to move out.
"So I'm just trying to go cause you know, I don't anything else to do but to leave,” she said.
Georgia Power said more than $2 billion has been invested for emissions control at Plant Scherer.
Also, 40 plaintiffs in the Scherer lawsuit are also suing the Vulcan Materials granite quarry that's nearby. They allege blasting and runoff has spread toxic and hazardous materials through the air and groundwater causing problems to their health.