A ban on burning creosote as a fuel source is in effect, according to the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD).
EPD spokesperson Kevin Chambers said the EPD visited Georgia Renewable Power (GRP) Aug. 6 and executed an administrative order regarding the creosote ban Aug. 7. The Georgia General Assembly recently passed HB857, which outlaws the burning of creosote as a fuel source in electricity generation.
“GRP has notified EPD that the creosote-mixed fuel has been fully consumed,” wrote Chambers. “EPD will be visiting the site to confirm compliance with the order. A condition of the order is that no new railroad ties treated with creosote shall be brought onsite.”
GRP executive vice president Carey Davis said HB857 has a loophole that permits an existing business to burn creosote while banning the practice for GRP.
“GRP has the legal right to challenge the bill,” wrote Davis. “Additionally, GRP could use the loophole that was created in the bill. However, GRP did not actively lobby against the bill nor will actively fight the bill in dedication to being a good steward to the community.”
Davis said “GRP will continue to work with the EPD and local legislators to ensure GRP is operating within its environmental limits and addressing community concerns.”
“GRP has never violated their post combustion emissions (with or without railroad ties),” wrote Davis. “HB 857 has no scientific backing as shown by the loophole created in the bill for nearly every other biomass facility in the state. Other facilities in the state continue to burn CTRT as it does not increase emissions. With that said, GRP will continue to operate within the permit changes provided by the EPD.”
Madison County Clean Power Coalition members adamantly opposed the burning of creosote-treated railroad ties and their efforts led to a change in the law, banning the practice.
Neighbors of the facility in Colbert have remained dismayed with GRP, saying it is a nuisance and threat to their health. They have taken issue with the notion that creosote does not pose health dangers.
“Why is it that the smell was so overwhelming that we could not stand to be outside?” wrote GRP neighbor Ted Fowler in a letter to the editor this week responding to recent comments by Davis. “Why did some of us have burning in our eyes, headaches and chest pains?”