CARTERSVILLE, Ga., July 29, 2002 — Georgia Power officials are moving quickly recently to contain a release of ash-laden silt from the Company’s Bowen Electric Generating Plant near Cartersville.
The spill is flowing into Euharlee Creek, which runs next to the plant and flows into the Etowah River.
The release was discovered yesterday after plant operators discovered a major sinkage of ash on one of the plant’s ash storage areas. The sinkage of ash — similar to a large sink hole — was most likely caused by elevated ground water levels in the storage area. Elevated water levels can create conditions that can trigger collapse of underground cavities in sub-surface limestone and cause ground sinkage.
The ash is removed from Bowen’s four coal fueled boilers and stored on the plant site. It is also dried and sold to the construction industry.
The company has notified state and federal environmental officials of the incident.
Engineers are working to bring in a large portable pump to divert the spillage into another storage area. Workers also will install silt booms to screen silt from the water.
Sinkholes are common in the northwest Georgia area and several have been found around the Bowen site since the Plant was completed in the 1970s. Sub- surface limestone is common in the area and believed to be a cause of sinkholes.
Georgia Power engineers have filled prior sinkholes with rock and aggregate material and plan similar measures with the present sinkage.
The ash material is not expected to have negative long-term consequences on Euharlee Creek or the Etowah River.
Plant Bowen provides about 20 percent of Georgia’s electricity needs and is continuing normal operations.
Georgia Power is the largest subsidiary of Southern Company, one of the nation’s largest generators of electricity. The company is an investor-owned, tax-paying utility, serving customers in 57,000 of the state’s 59,000 square miles. Georgia Power’s rates are more than 15 percent below the national average and its 2 million customers are in all but six of Georgia’s 159 counties.