Local citizens angered by Georgia Renewable Power (GRP) in Colbert have taken their fight to the highway — or a billboard to be exact.
The Madison County Clean Power Coalition (MCCPC) has put up a billboard on Hwy. 72 for motorists to see as they enter Colbert. It reads: “Danger zone: GRP is polluting this area…air, water, land, noise, light.”
“For me, the billboard is a permanent protest,” said MCCPC co-chair Gina Ward.
Cheryl Adams, who lives about seven tenths of a mile from GRP, said the plant presents real problems for her husband and herself.
“We live about three tenths of a mile from the railroad track and about two tenths of a mile from eight chicken houses and we’ve never complained about either one of those,” she said. “I’ve never had the smell of a chicken house permeate into our house and wake me up and keep me up at night. I’ve never feared it was going to cause me health hazards.”
GRP declined to comment on the billboard, but the company has adamantly stated that they’re following regulations and that they have spent significant money on noise abatement measures.
MCCPC pleaded with legislators to ban the burning of creosote at the facility. And that bill passed this year and was signed by Gov. Brian Kemp.
But residents around the plant say the noise needs to be tackled, too.
“MCCPC’s next goal is to get GRP to reduce the noise level created by the power plant,” said MCCPC co-chair Drago Tesanovich. “Noise pollution is dangerous and can cause many serious health problems. MCCPC’s research into the noise pollution problem shows that this goal can be accomplished. It will take the same effort by all of us working together to make this happen.”
Ward said noise abatement measures could be taken for “eight dryers, primary and secondary ID (induce draft) fans, and the distribution fan.”
“I will not stop protesting their presence until my quality of life has been restored. My spirit will outlast their money. GRP has forced our hand. Their recent statements indicate that they have no desire to dwell harmoniously among us. It appears they think we owe them our gratitude for placing a polluting, noisy, stinky power plant in our community. I am not thankful for them, especially at 2 a.m.”
Ruth Ann Tesanovich, secretary and treasurer of MCCPC, said county leaders need to work with citizens to help them with their industrial neighbor. And board members recently agreed recently to seek a third-party study of noise at the plant, while also addressing the county’s zoning ordinance.
“As GRP has a 30-year contract with Georgia Power, we may have to live with the approximately 1.7 million lbs/ year of pollutants emitted from biomass incineration including nitrogen oxides, particulate matter, sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds and other hazardous air pollutants such as arsenic, chromium, lead, and sulfuric acid,” said Tesanovich. “However, I hope we can work with our county leaders and GRP executives to seek solutions to issues such as noise and light pollution that are seriously affecting the health and quality of lives of the hundreds of people who live in close proximity to the Madison GRP plant near Colbert.”