Brantley Opposes Proposed Coal Plant; County Has Concerns about Mercury from the Ben Hill Power Site

By Morrison, Mike | The Florida Times Union, January 14, 2010 | Go to article overview

Brantley Opposes Proposed Coal Plant; County Has Concerns about Mercury from the Ben Hill Power Site


Morrison, Mike, The Florida Times Union


Byline: MIKE MORRISON

The Brantley County Commission has gone on record opposing plans to build a coal-fired power plant in Ben Hill County.

The commissioners aren't worried about the smoke. It's the mercury produced from coal combustion that could settle in the headwaters of the Satilla River and flow downstream through the middle of Brantley County.

During its regular meeting Tuesday night, the commission unanimously passed a resolution opposing the 850-megawatt plant proposed for the Fitzgerald area.

"We asked Ben Hill County to reconsider," Commissioner Mike Edgy said. "We don't need any more pollution in the Satilla River."

When coal is burned, mercury is emitted into the air and falls to the ground, often miles away from the plant, said John Carswell, acting executive director of the Satilla Riverkeeper organization.

That mercury is ingested by fish, making some species dangerous to eat, he said.

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources puts out an advisory on which species are safe to eat. From the Satilla, it advises that large flathead catfish not be consumed at all, and smaller ones only once a month because of a high mercury content.

Other species also are affected.

"My main concern is the Satilla," Edgy said. "It really worries me that they want to keep putting mercury into our river."

Carswell noted that, in some ways, Brantley County is on the cutting edge of the "green" revolution. …

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