EPD: Actually, About That PFOA Testing…

2 02 2009

John Sepulvado | GPB

For ten months, the Georgia Environmental Protection Division publicly said it was testing Northwest Georgia drinking water for a likely carcinogenic chemical. But now, the EPD says it never tested for PFOA in drinking water intakes.

The revelation comes after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency set a drinking water advisory for PFOA.

The chemical is found in high amounts in the Conasauga River, a source of drinking water for Northwest Georgia, including Rome. After a series of critical media stories were aired and published, the EPD announced it would test drinking water intakes for the compound. And for the past ten months, officials confirmed testing would take place.

Now, the project manager, Jeremy Smith, tells GPB there has been “a mix-up,” and that another EPD official misspoke. No further explanation was given. The EPD has no plans to test the drinking water.

The agency is still testing fish pulled from the river for PFOA, and those results are expected by spring.

Hearing draws a crowd

2 02 2009

Ross Blair | Bryan County News

Hundreds of Bryan and Liberty residents filled the Midway Civic Center on Jan. 27 for the Georgia Environmental Protection Division’s public meeting and hearing about a proposed wastewater treatment plant near the Laurel View River, which runs through both counties.

A large number of phone calls and 236 letters written to the EPD expressing concern about the project prompted the hearing, which started with an informational meeting.

Officials manned the tables and interacted with residents, answering questions and explaining their viewpoint.

The EPD viewpoint seemed to be the same as the Liberty County Development Authority – that the plant will not harm the ecosystem along the Bryan and Liberty coastline.

“It is environmentally sound,” said Bob Scott with the EPD. “We would not have issued a draft permit if we hadn’t reviewed the design and felt confident that the plant can meet the limits that are protective of the environment.”

Scott said he has heard the many arguments against the creation of the facility, but he does not agree with them.

Continue Reading Here.

Georgia Power: Nuclear critics’ data is flawed

28 01 2009


MARGARET NEWKIRK | The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Georgia Power fired back at critics this week, saying dire warnings about the cost of its proposal to collect fees upfront for nuclear power expansion were mistaken.

In testimony filed with the state Public Service Commission late Monday, the utility said critics including the PSC’s public advocacy staff had mixed accounting apples and oranges to come up with their estimates. Those critics will have an opportunity to cross-examine the company in two weeks.

The company also blasted a cost-control mechanism proposed by the state PSC staff.

Under that plan, the PSC could roll back Georgia Power’s allowed return on its $6.4 billion nuclear investment if the construction project ran too far over budget.

Georgia Power said no dice.

“We must start by emphatically stating that we cannot and will not agree to the staff’s proposed ‘incentive’ plan,” the company said in the testimony.

“We will not accept a certificate that includes those regulatory conditions,” it said.

The company said its business depends on offering low rates, which is cost-control incentive enough.

Georgia Power’s rebuttal came on the eve of a state Senate committee hearing about a bill that would give the company the early funding it wants, bypassing the PSC.

The Senate Regulated Industry and Utility Committee will hear testimony on Senate Bill 31 Wednesday afternoon.

Continue Reading Here.

Decatur PFOA Find Could Lead to Regulations

22 01 2009

GPB News

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency officials are investigating how record amounts of PFOA and other Perfluorinated Compounds (PFCs) turned up in Decatur, Alabama sludge.

The investigation could eventually lead to regulated PFOA standards in sewage treatment, officials say, although much more data and studies would need to be completed before making such a determination. Already, the high levels in Decatur prompted an EPA drinking water advisory for PFOA and PFOS.

The question investigators have is whether Decatur is a unique case.

PFOA is classified by the EPA as a “likely carcinogen,” and numerous studies have linked it to various cancers. It is often described as a byproduct of making stain resistant carpet, and an ingredient in manufacturing non-stick surfaces such as Teflon.

Any new standards could impact a wastewater treatment plant in Whitfield County operated by Dalton Utilities that releases PFOA and other PFCs that eventually end up in the Conasauga River, a source of drinking water for several Northwest Georgia Communities.

Some samples gathered by the EPA in the Conasauga’s surface water have shown 12.5 times the advisable amount for drinking water.

The Georgia Environmental Protection Division tested drinking water and fish tissue along the Conasaugua for PFOA and PFCs, but are still evaluating the results from that summer survey.

Dalton Utilities says they need more guidance from permitting authorities, and will not change operations until then.

In an effort to find the sources of PFOA in Decatur, EPA officials have requested information from fourteen companies with Alabama operations, including 3M, Japanese based chemical manufacturer Daikin, and Toray Flurofibers. According to EPA officials, all three chemical companies have been cooperative and are not suspected of any wrongdoing or law violations.

The EPA is also looking into privately held Alabama waste company, Biological Processors of Alabama, Inc, according to documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.

Read on here.

Asbestos found at a South Georgia college

19 11 2008


AMERICUS, GA  – A South Georgia college is being investigated by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Traces of asbestos were found during the demolition of Georgia Southwestern University’s Complex III, but the EPA said the amount was to small to pose a threat to the public.

The demolition of that old dormitory began October 14th and is now completely leveled.

The University plans to open a new residence hall in August 2009.

The EPA’s investigation is still on going.

Toccoa must get not the lead, but the phosophorous out

17 11 2008


— With new environmental rules coming, Toccoa city officials are trying to make sure their pipes are phosphorus-free.

The Georgia Environmental Protection Division is implementing new standards about how much phosphorus can be in the wastewater the city puts back into streams, said Don Dye, Toccoa water/wastewater director.

“We have never had a phosphorus limit before, but our new limit is now one part per million,” said Dye. “What we typically discharge on a normal discharge day is probably close to three parts per million. We need to implement some kind of system that would remove the phosphorus from the wastewater.”

Phosphorus comes from industrial sources and in certain amounts is unhealthy for stream life. The EPD is now mandating that municipalities must meet certain limits of the element in the water they return to streams after it has been cleaned in a wastewater treatment plant.

The City of Toccoa recently completed a study to determine the best way to meet these limits and found a certain chemical should be added to the process.

“We are going to add alum to it, which will bind up the phosphorus” Dye said. “Plus, we are going to raise the pH, which will make it inherently more able to precipitate the phosphorus out. It is a two-pronged approach to fix the phosphorus problem.”

The cost to put the new system is estimated to be $68,000. City officials are hoping to use a grant to pay for the work.

Notices go out about uranium levels in water

29 10 2008


CRYSTAL OWENS | Online Athens

Nearly two dozen utilities across Northeast Georgia are telling customers that their water contains radioactive contaminants.

But, they warn, staying hydrated is no more dangerous than a trip to the dentist. A change in U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulations has required government officials throughout the country, including 34 Georgia municipalities, to notify residents of the uranium levels in their water.

The EPA last month lowered the maximum amount of uranium allowed in drinking water from 30 to 20 parts per billion, which in turn, by federal law, forced those municipalities with uranium levels over twice the 20-ppb limit to notify residents.

In Lexington – one of three municipalities in Oglethorpe County affected by the change – the water contains 48 ppb of uranium, said Mayor David Montgomery.

Lexington residents get their drinking water from four sources, but a well on Georgia Highway 77 South tested positive for higher uranium levels than the other wells, Montgomery said.

The city’s utility is drawing less water from that well while officials test the groundwater, a process that could take months, he said. If uranium levels still are high, the city will stop using the well.

Maxeys’ officials, along with leaders in Banks, Barrow, Clarke, Franklin, Jackson and Madison counties, also notified residents of the change.

Water customers should not be alarmed by the uranium levels, said Ted Jackson, state Environmental Protection Division environmental emergency and radiation program manager.

The uranium exposure to a person who drinks eight to 10 glasses of water each day for a year is equivalent to one chest X-ray per year, Jackson said.

“The risk in the grand scheme of things is not large,” he said.

Read on here.