Carolina coal ash waste finds new home in north Georgia

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Georgia Power's Plant Bowen in Cartersville, HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM
Georgia Power's Plant Bowen in Cartersville, HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

Georgia Power’s Plant Bowen in Cartersville, HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

Power behemoth Duke Energy is shipping coal ash that North and South Carolina don’t want to north Georgia.

For months, trucks full of coal ash have been bound from Gaston, NC for Homer, which is about 75 northeast of downtown Atlanta, because North Carolina law requires it be completely moved from a retired power plant by 2019. The ash, which contains toxins such as arsenic, is a byproduct from power plants that burn coal. Power plants wet it down and store the slurry in massive lagoons as a way to keep it from choking the air.

North Carolina has wanted little to do with coal ash since a pond dumped some 39 tons of it into the Dan River in 2014. South Carolina doesn’t want the stuff either, so Duke Energy is sending some 1.4 million tons of coal ash from a power station in the northwest part of that state to Homer.

There is no such resistance to coal ash in Georgia, which has a decades-long history of leaks and spills, an Atlanta Journal-Constitution investigation found earlier this year.

Scientists warn the waste needs to stay in lined facilities, well away from bodies of water, criteria which Homer’s dump meets. Unlike most of Georgia’s coal ash impoundments, it’s lined with synthetic and natural materials that are supposed to keep toxins from the ash from escaping into the environment, reports state.


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