Member Alert for Community Near the Harlee Branch Coal Plant on Lake Sinclair, Milledgeville, GA
1/5/2016–The Altamaha River watershed received massive flooding over the holidays, swelling rivers and lakes. Altamaha Riverkeeper (ARK) regularly monitors the waters throughout the watershed, including the Lakes, in particular Lake Sinclair. ARK was concerned about the coal ash ponds at Plant Branch due to their proximity to the waters of Lake Sinclair, a popular lake for fishing, swimming and recreating, and lined with both permanent residences and summer homes. Riverkeeper Jen Hilburn began investigations Saturday morning and found multiple streams with heavy water flow rushing through the woods from Georgia Power’s coal ash ponds directly into the lake.
The water entering the lake was visibly different from the lake water, as it was clear and had no signs of spending any time with red clay, the soils of the area. Riverkeeper noticed the constant noise of large generator humming, and hustle of GP trucks and activity around the ponds. Due to the very short distances between the pond and lakes, and the velocity and quantity of water flowing into the lake, the water coming into the lake cannot be a result of natural drainage, but instead water being pumped. The only place that water could come from is the coal ash ponds.
“I am deeply concerned about what sounds like pumping of water into Lake Sinclair. If this is coming directly from the coal ash ponds into the lake, it could pose a threat to our community on the lake as well as many others who utilize its waters. Georgia Power appears to be delibrately dumping coal ash waste directly into the lake. I am surprised that no-one I spoke with on Lake Sinclair had been notified in anyway by Georgia Power of their activities”
ARK captured photos of the discharge and reported to Georgia EPD, the Environmental Protection Division, who have launched an investigation into the alleged pumping. ARK has been in touch multiple times with Georgia EPD and is awaiting an update. Meanwhile, our investigation continues and we will update you soon.
We are very concerned about the public health risk of discharging large amounts of waste water out of coal ash ponds directly into the lake. Citizens are urged to not consume any fish from the popular fishing lake until further notice. ARK will continue to report as more information becomes available and thanks all community members for their support. Your membership dollars make investigations like this possible. If you have any additional information to provide about this situation, please call us or reply to this email. If you have family or friends who own property or recreate on Lake Sinclair, please forward this email to them.