– Nov. 9, 2022 –

The election wasn’t the only news of the last few days. Hurricane season is making a late bid for attention, coal ash lingers as a concern and Georgia Power is pushing for a rate hike, among other environmental issues. Read on.

Late season storm

Hurricane season runs from June through November, always has. But coastal Georgians could be forgiven for letting their guard down every year after Halloween. After all, November storms are relatively rare. Nevertheless, we’re looking at Tropical Storm Nicole headed our way. The National Hurricane Center is warning that the Georgia coast is likely to see minor wind damage, storm surge and moderate to major coastal flooding from Nicole, with effects beginning as early as Wednesday. Keep updated on the storm’s status through the National Hurricane Center.

Coal ash report

The Environmental Integrity Project and Earthjustice issued a recent report that tracks the progress to clean up toxic coal ash ponds left at power plants around the country. The groups ranked sites based on measured contamination of pollutants including arsenic, selenium and other heavy metals, Robert Zullo of the Georgia Recorder reports. Eight sites in Georgia made the list, including two coastal power plants. Plant McManus in Glynn County came in at number 108 on the national list of most contaminated coal ash sites. The level of arsenic detected in groundwater there was 31 times greater than the acceptable level. Plant McIntosh in Effingham County came in at number 187.

Georgia Power's Plant McManus in Glynn County
Plant McManus Credit: Georgia Power

Electric rates hearing

Not everyone was focused on the midterms Tuesday. The Georgia Public Service Commission held a 9 a.m. hearing on Georgia Power’s requested rate increase. The request, if approved, would result in a $17 monthly increase for the utility’s average residential customers. The five-member commission was supposed to have members Tim Echols and Fritz Johnson on Tuesday’s statewide ballot, but a successful court challenge is changing the way Georgians elect these positions and has delayed those races. The rate case hearings continue Wednesday and Thursday. They are livestreamed and available for viewing on the PSC’s YouTube channel. See an earlier recap of the issue from Stanley Dunlap of the Georgia Recorder to learn what’s at stake.

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Briefly noted

Explosions and a fire at the Symrise factory in Brunswick on Monday forced some nearby residents to evacuate their homes for several hours and others to shelter in place. Symrise is a global company that makes fragrances and flavorings, focusing on pine products in Brunswick, as The Current’s Mary Landers reports. No employees or residents were injured, but one firefighter was treated for exhaustion.

With Camden County Administrator Steve Howard leaving at the end of the month for a new job in Florida, the County Commission voted last week to appoint County Attorney John Myers as the interim county administrator and to hire a search firm to look for a permanent administrator. Myers will continue in his role as county attorney, Senior Director of Human Resources Mike Spiers wrote in an email. His pay had not been determined as of Monday. Howard is also the project leader for the beleaguered Spaceport Camden, but the commission did not mention that position.

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Coal plant operators shirking responsibilities on ash cleanup, report contends

Few utilities and other owners responsible for the often unlined pits where billions of tons of ash leach heavy metals and other toxins into groundwater are planning comprehensive cleanups, per a report released Thursday by a pair of environmental groups.

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Georgia Power rate hike plan gets days in the sun as utility plans to hand customers the tab

Over the next few months, corporate lawyers, consumer watchdogs and government officials will get their say in a rate case that will determine how much the state’s largest utility provider charges its 2.7 million consumers over the next three years.

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What does Symrise make at plant where fires forced evacuations?

An early morning fire and multiple explosions Monday morning at the Symrise Chemical Plant at Colonel’s Island forced the evacuation of the plant itself as well as nearby neighborhoods including The Hickory Bluff, Sanctuary Cove, Satilla Shores and Royal Oaks.

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Mary Landers is a reporter for The Current in Coastal Georgia with more than two decades of experience focusing on the environment. Contact her at mary.landers@thecurrentga.org She covered climate and...