the power to corrupt

James Holland has dug into his archives from his days as the Altamaha River Keeper (ARK) to remind us that it’s not just North Carolina that’s got a coal waste problem.

Plant-HarleyThe Duke Energy coal ash spill in North Carolina has been in the news a lot, as of late. This tragedy on the Dan River in North Carolina started me to thinking about how one of Georgia’s main rivers and lakes may be quite vulnerable to a coal ash spill at Milledgeville, Georgia. The lake is Lake Sinclair and the river that is dammed to create Lake Sinclair is the Oconee River in the Altamaha River watershed.

The Dan River spill got me to thinking about how many of my friends up and down this great Altamaha River Watershed had ever seen a coal ash pond (waste water from a coal burning electrical generating plant). The name of this plant is the Harley Branch Electrical Generating Plant owned by the Georgia Power Company.
The attached photos are old, taken by me in 2009, but you can get a general idea from these photos what would happen if we had such a spill, as the Dan River spill, into Lake Sinclair.

Just so folks can’t say I am picking on this plant at Milledgeville, in this water shed we also have other large manufacturing plants with huge, ugly nasty waste water holding ponds, fronting on our river banks. We have the Rayonier pulp mill at Jesup and the Brunswick Cellulose Plant in Brunswick on the Turtle River. All of the plants would create a catastrophe in the event of a major spill at any of these sites.

To which I can only suggest a slight amendment: “what man hath joined together, he’s obliged to take apart.” Drowning our waste is about on a par with drowning our sorrows at the bar.


Monica Smith

Monica Smith writes Hannah's Blog. Born in Germany, she came to the United States as a child, living first in California, then after an interval in Chile, in New York. Married to a retired professor at the University of Florida, where she lived for 17 years, she moved to St. Simons Island, Georgia, in 1993 and now divides her time between Georgia and New Hampshire. (New Hampshire, she says, is always interesting during a presidential election.) She and her husband have three children and five grandchildren. Ms. Smith says she "learned long ago that I am not a good team player when I got hired at the Library of Congress, fresh out of college with a degree in political science and proficiency in four foreign languages, to 'edit' library cards and informed my supervisor that if she was going to insist I punch the clock exactly on time, my productivity was going to fall from being the highest to being the same as everyone else's. The supervisor opted to assign me to another building where there was no time-clock. After I had the first of our three children, I decided a paycheck wasn't worth the hassle."