Georgia Power defends itself against lawsuit

Published on August 05, 2020 by Liz Carey

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Georgia Power said Monday it will stand firm behind its employees and the safe operations of its plant in Juliette, GA, following a lawsuit that was filed on July 29.

The lawsuit, filed by 45 Monroe County residents living near the company’s Plant Scherer, claims that the company illegally released and dumped toxic heavy metals from coal ash into the groundwater. According to the lawsuit, families said they get their water from private wells, and they allege toxins from the plant are “poisoning” people. Neighbors allege various health problems, including cancer, cardiovascular and immune disorders, liver damage, are direct effects of the plant’s actions.

The lawsuit asks Georgia Power to pay for personal injuries and property damage, to stop polluting the water, and to pay for medical monitoring.

Georgia Power said it stands behind its employees and the safe operation of the plant.

“We have been a part of the Juliette and Monroe County communities for decades, and we take our responsibility as a trusted neighbor very seriously,” said Dr. Mark Berry, vice president of Environmental & Natural Resources for Georgia Power. “Our employees and retirees also live and raise their families in the communities we serve, and if our operations were causing harm to residents, we would take every action necessary to resolve the situation.”

A similar lawsuit was filed in 2013. That lawsuit was dismissed when plaintiffs withdrew the action after the court required them to provide expert evidence. Georgia Power said it is reviewing the current lawsuit and that it believes, again, the claims are “without merit.”

Georgia Power said that since the plant first opened, the company has incorporated strict environmental standards for the plant’s operation, including the operation of the ash pond. The ash pond is in the process of being closed, and the company said protecting water quality has been its top priority.