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Coal Ash in Georgia

Coal Ash, the leftover waste from burning coal, affects Georgian’s health and well-being. Coal Ash contains arsenic, lead, mercury, and other heavy metals. When these chemicals seep into water or soil, it causes health problems for those exposed. As the chart shows, a high number of those individuals are low-income.

Source: https://earthjustice.org/features/coal-ash-contamination-georgia-groundwater

Currently, disposal of Coal Ash in Georgia is less regulated than household garbage. Regular garbage must be disposed of in lined landfills, but coal ash dumps do not need to be lined.

Coal Ash has historically been stored in leaky, unlined ponds. Best practices are to store coal ash in lined landfills. Old waste should be moved from unlined ponds into lined landfills as well.

In Georgia, these practices are not law. In 2020, several bills were before the Georgia House and Senate. The ones requiring lined landfills were not passed. One bill to raise the dumping fee was passed

The legislative process is slow and deliberate. We are continuing to advocate for greater oversight and improved storage of Coal Ash.

2021-2022 Georgia General Assembly Legislative Session

Check back here for updates and information for Coal Ash related legislation.

Results of the 2019-2020 Georgia General Assembly Legislative Session

HB 959 and SB 123 Similar bills to raise the fee on coal ash dumping. Right now, the fee is lower than most other states which causes them to dump their waste in Georgia. This new bill will discourage utilities from other states to dump in Georgia.
SB 123 Signed into law Jun 29, 2020

HB 93 – Serve public notice when pits are drained. This bill did not pass.
HB 929 – Require monitoring of all coal ash pits (lined or unlined). This bill did not pass.
SB 382 and SB 384 – Similar bills to prohibit coal ash landfills near Georgia blackwater rivers. These bills did not pass.
HB 1062 – Prohibit coal ash landfills from being near Georgia blackwater rivers. Similar to SB 382. This bill was not passed.
HB 756 and SB 297 Similar bills to require a liner in all coal ash storage pits. These bills were not passed.

To learn more about Coal Ash please see:

Georgia Water Collation – Issue page on Coal Ash
Earth Justice – Report on Georgia groundwater and Coal Ash.

Get Involved: Contact Your Legislator

Please see our How To page for tips, templates, and links to locate your representative and senator. This is a Georgia State issue – contact your Georgia legislators.

**We are not responsible for the opinions on linked websites.

**This post was originally published on Mar 13, 2020 – it has been updated on Dec 15, 2020 to reflect the results of the GA General Assembly.

Updated on June 23, 2021

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