Creosote-treated railroad ties

Creosote-treated railroad ties are pictured outside of the Georgia Renewable Power (GRP) plant in Colbert in October 2019.

The burning of creosote-treated railroad ties as a fuel source will soon come to end in Madison and Franklin counties, provided Gov. Brian Kemp puts his signature on legislation that unanimously passed both the House and Senate.

That will happen within the next 40 days and perhaps within a couple of weeks, according to the bill's primary author Rep. Alan Powell.

"I've requested a bill signing ceremony," said Powell. "It could be anytime in the next 40 days."

House Bill 857, which bans the use of creosote-treated railroad ties as a fuel source for electricity generation at biomass plants, passed the Senate unanimously Thursday. It will take effect upon the signature of the governor.

Powell said he is very pleased for the people of Madison and Franklin counties. He said the bill is an example of “how government is supposed to work,” putting the concerns of citizens’ health and well-being first.

“I’ve listened to the pain and anguish of the people who live near these facilities,” he said. “I’m very pleased with the passage of HB857. It’s one of the few bills to pass unanimously.”

Tom McCall, Rick Jasperse, Robert Trammell and Spencer Frye were co-authors on the bill. Madison County State Senator Frank Ginn also voted in favor of the creosote ban Thursday.

Citizens’ groups in both Madison and Franklin counties have spoke out for months against Georgia Renewable Power's practice of burning creosote, a known carcinogen.

GRP officials said they won't have a comment until the bill is signed into law by the Governor.

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