Air Deposition & Water Pollution
Of the many threats to coastal ecosystems, probably the least generally recognized are the many particulate materials that are deposited by
distant smokestacks of industries and power plants. One reason why these contaminant sources are often overlooked is that they can be hundreds
of miles away from the areas they adversely affect. But their distance from areas polluted do not diminish the potential harm caused by these
sources. Cumulatively enormous amounts of nitrous oxide and sulfur oxide, the most common compounds producing acid rain, as well as mercury,
a known carcinogen and threat to human central nervous systems, are released by power plants. Those most likely to be affecting coastal
Georgia are in Alabama, South Carolina, and upstate Georgia - at least two dozen plants are in question.
A recent article in Coastlines, a publication of the Urban Harbors Institute at the University of Massachusetts in Boston, explains that, "In
some places atmospheric deposition is known to be a significant portion of the total pollutant load to coastal waters, in others it is a minor
component, while in many its significance is simply not known."
There are reasons to conclude that under our current circumstances, the relative threat of air deposition in coastal Georgia is unknown, but
precautions are warranted. EPA's National Watershed Assessment finds that all five coastal Georgia rivers cannot be rated for water quality
because data is insufficient, including measures of toxic chemicals. We do know that throughout the Southeast, the Atlantic king mackerel
has been listed for ╬consumption advisories' due to high levels of mercury contamination. Furthermore, the Atlanta-based organization, Citizens
for Clean Energy warns that prevailing winds carry diverse power-plant pollution toward our region.
Indications are that atmospheric deposition is a problem for our region, but further research is needed. It is unquestionable that such pollution
is a problem for some areas within our watersheds, and it is therefore likely to be moving downstream toward the coast.
The US EPA is soon releasing a handbook providing further information for evaluating the problem of air deposition. It will explain what
the public needs to know about monitoring, modeling, and determining sources of airborne pollution. If further studies show air deposition
to be an important source of contamination, EPA outlines the implications for the area's environment and the options available to managers,
including a list of potential funding sources for offsetting costs of reducing continued environmental threats.
The handbook will be accessible on the EPA website page on air deposition, and may also be ordered in hard copy. For further information,
see www.epa.gov/owow/ocean/airdep or call Debora Martin at (202) 260-2729.
Plant Hatch Nuclear Power Plant Relicensing
The Southern Company has created a high-level radioactive waste dump next to the Altamaha River and plans to re-license the aging nuclear
Plant Hatch in Baxley, Georgia. On July 6th PlantHatch was touted to have "made nuclear history by successfully loading a certified
multi-purpose canister in a dual purpose cask" according to the manufacturer of the casks, Holtec International. Two more casks were
loaded later that month.
In order to avoid shutdown, the Southern Company removed some highly radioactive spent nuclear fuel rods from the facility's nearly full
spent fuel pool and placed them in giant dry casks that were then moved outside and placed on a cement pad near the Altamaha.
Southern Company is trying to avoid future shutdown, ignoring the plant's mounting waste problem by applying for a license renewal. In May,
the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) held public Environmental Scoping meetings. You can access comments at
www.nrc.gov/NRC/PUBLIC/LR/scopingmtg.html. According to NRC timelines, the Draft Environmental Impact Statement should be released in
January with public comments on the draft due in March 2001. Hatch's renewed license, if approved, will be issued March 21, 2002.
- Spent fuel is incredibly radioactive and will remain exceedingly dangerous for up to millions of years. The nuclear waste requires
constant shielding to protect workers, the public, and environment from its damaging radiation.
- The casks at Hatch are currently undergoing "real-world" testing in South Georgia since regulatory tests occurred
- The two reactors are currently 22 and 26 years old. If the NRC approves the re-licensing application, the reactors
can operate for an
additional 20 years until 2034 and 2038. All the while generating more dangerous radioactive waste. No reactor in
the U.S. has operated
the full length of the original 40-year license.
- Plant Hatch sits alongside the Altamaha River near prime agricultural areas, is two counties upstream from Georgia's
Golden Isles, is in
a floodplain, an earthquake zone, and a region that has been impacted by hurricanes and tornadoes.
- NRC documents confirm that the plant has had repeated worker radiation exposures and serious accidents.
- Though Southern currently claims that it intends to only store Plant Hatch's waste at the outdoor dump, it only takes
a license amendment
to allow Hatch to accept waste from other nuclear facilities.
- Write the Governor, and carbon copy NRC Chairman Meserve, that Plant Hatch should not be re-licensed, South Georgia
shouldn't be the ongoing
testing grounds for a regional radioactive dump, and loading of spent fuel should stop immediately.
- Send a brief letter to the editor of your local paper that highlights your concerns over this issue and carbon copy
your elected officials.
- Call or write your Public Service Commissioners and demand that Georgians be given the opportunity to purchase safe,
affordable power. Ask them to support renewable energy projects instead of the Hatch scheme.
Governor Roy Barnes
203 State Capitol Building, Atlanta, GA 30334
Fax: (404) 657-7332 Phone: (404) 656-1776
Nuclear Regulatory Commission▄Chairman Meserve
US NRC, Chairman Meserve, 016C1, Washington, DC, 20555
Fax: (301) 415-1672 Phone: (301) 415-1750/1759
Georgia Public Service Commission
Chairman Durden, Public Service Commission, 47 Trinity Avenue, Atlanta, GA 30334
Call a Commissioner at (800) 282-5813
Visit the PSC website www.psc.state.ga.us and e-mail them your concerns.