Georgia county to test water wells for coal ash

Officials in a central Georgia county say they will pay to test water wells for coal ash contamination.

Monroe County Manager Jim Hedges tells WGXA-TV that the county will pay $10,000 to test about 55 private wells across the county. The tests come after environmental group Altamaha Riverkeeper tested wells of residents around Juliette and found chemicals they say indicate contamination from the coal ash pond at Georgia Power Co.’s Plant Scherer.

Georgia Power, a unit of Atlanta-based Southern Co., says its own testing of wells around the coal-fired power plant show no contamination above federal or state limits. The company plans to extract water from the coal ash, cap the pond in place and monitor it for future contamination.

Juliette residents came to the state capitol Monday to lobby for a bill that would require Georgia Power to dig up the coal ash and bury it in a lined landfill.

Hedges said the results should come back within 7 to 10 days.

Residents are also lobbying to be connected to a water system, but county officials said that could cost $20 million and take two years to complete.

Beyond the county testing, Duke University Professor Avner Vengosh, who studies coal ash contamination, is scheduled to visit Monroe County to study 10 to 12 private wells within 2 miles of Plant Scherer. The county will pay travel costs for Vengosh and a student.