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Georgia Power's Ash Pond Closure Process

Georgia Power is permanently closing its 29 ash ponds at 11 coal-fired power plants across the state. In 2016, the company committed that all ash ponds will stop receiving coal ash within three years and the significant construction work necessary to accommodate the dry-handling of ash at each plant is expected to be completed by 2019.

Closure Methods

Ash pond closures are site-specific and balance multiple factors such as pond size, location, geology, and amount of material; and each closure will be certified by a team of independent, professional engineers.

Closure by Removal

The company is completely removing the ash from 17 ponds located adjacent to lakes or rivers where advanced engineering methods, such as the installation of impermeable concrete barriers designed to enhance the protection of groundwater around the closed pond, may not be feasible.

The ash from these ponds will either be relocated to a permitted landfill, consolidated with other closing ash ponds or recycled for beneficial use. More than 50 percent of the coal ash Georgia Power produces today is recycled for various uses such as Portland cement, concrete, and cinder blocks.

Advanced Closure in Place

Georgia Power's remaining 12 ash ponds will be closed in place using advanced engineering methods and technologies that are designed to enhance protection of groundwater.

Ash Pond Dewatering

As Georgia Power closes its ash ponds, water in the ponds must be removed so the ash pond can either be excavated or closed in place using advanced engineering methods and technologies. In some cases, the water may be re-used in plant processes while in other cases, it will be treated before being discharged. This treatment and removal activity is known as "dewatering." Throughout the dewatering process, the company is going above and beyond what is required by its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits, as well as the federal Coal Combustion Residuals Rule and the Effluent Limitations Guidelines Rule.

Before Georgia Power dewaters any ash pond, the company provides advance notice to the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD). Additionally, the company prepares and submits an "ash pond dewatering plan" to EPD for its approval. That plan identifies the enhanced water treatment system, controls and monitoring that will be used during the process to ensure that the water discharged is protective of water quality standards.

Click here for a brochure outlining this process at Plant Branch

Dewatering Testing Results

Georgia Power is actively sampling and testing the treated water in accordance with its EPD-approved dewatering plans. Independent third party contractors are conducting the work with samples being analyzed by accredited independent laboratories for 22 parameters.

  • All data is being reported to the Georgia EPD and test results available to-date are posted on this site. Water discharge results are currently being posted for Plant McDonough-Atkinson and Plant McManus. These results show that permit limits are being met, and discharge levels for all parameters indicate water quality is being protected.

To communicate its water discharge results with the public, Georgia Power has provided tables that summarize individual rounds of testing at each plant. Detailed footnotes are included to clearly explain the results contained in the tables.

Groundwater Monitoring

As part of the ash pond closure process, Georgia Power has installed approximately 500 groundwater monitoring wells around all 29 ash ponds, and landfills, to test groundwater conditions at each plant. These wells will continue to be monitored around our ponds and landfills even after they are permanently closed.

Groundwater monitoring is being conducted in compliance with federal and state regulations. Groundwater is being sampled by independent third party contractors and analyzed by accredited independent laboratories for 20 substances.

Georgia Power is currently in the process of completing a total of at least eight rounds of background groundwater monitoring at each plant. The company is providing the results to the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) well in advance of regulatory deadlines. In addition, test results available to-date are posted on this site.

Groundwater Testing Results

  • As of March 2017, 210 out of 242 wells have been found to meet all of the state's primary drinking water standards. A total of 32 wells detected one or more substance above the state's primary drinking water standards.

To communicate its groundwater testing results with the public, Georgia Power has provided:

  • An easy to read, one-page chart illustrating initial results.
  • Tables that summarize individual rounds of testing at each plant. Detailed footnotes are included to clearly explain the results contained in the table.
  • These results will be utilized to establish background groundwater conditions at each plant.

Plant Specific Data

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Coal Combustion

Coal Combustion Residuals

We are committed to providing clean, affordable energy. View the 2016 Coal Combustion Residuals report to learn more.

Did You Know?

Did You Know?

Georgia Power has planted more than 3 million trees across the state during the past five years! Learn about our environmental stewardship efforts.