Clean Power Coalition meeting

Madison County Clean Power Coalition co-chair Drago Tesanovich addresses a crowd at the county library Jan. 16.

A group of citizens will take to the street to protest pollution from the Georgia Renewable Power (GRP) plant in Colbert.

Madison County Clean Power Coalition (MCCPC) announced plans to picket in front of GRP off Hwy. 72 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 25.

Local citizens gathered in the county library community room Jan. 16 to voice dismay with pollution and noise coming from the plant.

MCCPC co-chair Gina Ward spoke of the effect of air and noise pollution from GRP on local citizens. She and others in the group are urging more citizens to get involved. The group’s primary concern is the burning of creosote-treated railroad ties at the plant.

“Burning railroad ties for fuel is wrong,” she said. “We all know it. This needs to go to a higher level.”

Co-chair Drago Tesanovich said there are also plans to picket in front of Georgia Power’s headquarters in Atlanta. GRP burns wood at its facility to generate electricity, then sells it to Georgia Power. A portion of the wood is from CSX railroad, which has a track that runs next to the plant. CSX delivers crossties that have been replaced to the facility for disposal. The crossties contain the preservative creosote.

This has been a source of great dismay for neighboring residents. Company leaders have said the facility has proper equipment to burn the ties, which is allowed by the federal government. The state Environmental Protection Division (EPD) is charged with making sure the plant follows environmental guidelines.

Neighboring residents say their noses and decibel readers give them plenty of reason not to put credence in assurances that there's not a serious problem. They say they want to know what's in the air and water around their homes.

EPD spokesperson Kevin Chambers said this past week that the EPD is waiting for emissions figures and has already received test audits to review the process of emissions testing.

“(The) reports that we received are just the relative accuracy test audits for their continuous emissions monitoring systems,” wrote Chambers in response to a question on when emissions tests would be available. “Those audits are to make sure that their monitors are getting accurate results compared to known concentrations. We have not received the emissions test reports but should be due before the end of the month.”

Meanwhile, The Journal contacted GRP officials this week, and they said they plan to have regular updates on what GRP is doing, adding that they are not trying to hide anything. Those updates will be published in The Journal as they are received.

In other matters last week, MCCPC heard from Renee Cail of the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League (BREDL), which the MCCPC recently joined. BREDL pools resources between citizens’ groups fighting environmental battles in different areas. Cail urged MCCPC to seek help from BREDL.

The group heard from Waylon Johnson, who is urging local youth to get involved in the “Real Change Project,” which is focused on environmental stewardship.

The audience also learned about the new MCCPC website (madisoncleanpowercoalition.com), which offers citizens resources such as links to permits, news stories, question-and-answer sessions and other information.

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