December marks the five year anniversary of the Kingston coal ash spill, one of the most significant environmental disasters in U.S. history. The accident released over one billion gallons of ash sludge into the Emory river and throughout neighboring properties. Its effects included damage to property as well as, impacts to the health of nearby residents.
Many communities in the southeast are susceptible to contamination resulting from coal ash.
Many communities throughout the southeast, including many in the state of Georgia, are susceptible to the detrimental effects of coal ash. One such community is located in Juliette, Georgia. It is home to one of the country’s largest coal fire power plants—the Scherer Power Station. Many residents believe that their water wells are contaminated with high levels of uranium and other toxic heavy metals coming from the Plant’s unlined coal ash dumps. A survey conducted by the University of Georgia found that there were unsafe uranium levels in the drinking water of over 20 homes located near the Plant. When uranium breaks down, it forms radon. Exposure to radon is the leading cause of lung cancer among nonsmoking Americans. In addition to uranium poisoning and cancer, the toxins have lead to kidney disease, dementia, and respiratory illness.
Lawsuits seek to compensate residents for injuries resulting from coal ash contamination caused by improper disposal and monitoring.
In September of this year, two lawsuits were filed on behalf of 123 current and former residents of the area surrounding the Plant. The lawsuit which was filed against the Plant’s owners, including Georgia Power, claims that the Plant knowingly released toxic contaminants that were detrimental to their health and well being of nearby residents. The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages for claims including negligence, nuisance, and fraud.
Industry representatives deny that coal ash presents a danger to the health of nearby residents.
Industry representatives argue that coal ash is safe. In addition, a report issued by the Georgia Department of Public Health this summer found that the levels of uranium in the area are naturally occurring. This has resulted in minimal regulation regarding the disposal of coal ash. For example, while Georgia is one of the leading states in coal ash production, it also has some of the weakest regulations pertaining to coal ash disposal. In addition, the Environmental Protection Agency has delayed issuing new regulations in this area. For this reason, the outcome of this case could be have significant impacts on other lawsuits alleging personal injury resulting from coal ash, as well as, government regulations and industry standards related to coal ash disposal.
If you believe that environmental contamination has caused damage to your health or property, you should contact an attorney immediately.