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Plant Hammond hearing set for tonight at Rome-Floyd ECO Center

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Georgia Power is seeking a renewal of its permit to discharge Plant Hammond’s wastewater into the Coosa River and Smith Cabin Creek.

A public hearing is set for 7 p.m. at the Rome-Floyd ECO Center in Ridge Ferry Park.

The Georgia Environmental Protection Division issued a notice that it will take public comments through Friday on the company’s plans to discharge just over 662 million gallons a day of water used in the steam electric generation plant. The hearing tonight is a chance to speak.

Jesse Demon­breun-Chapman, executive director of the Coosa River Basin Initiative, said Tuesday he’s hoping for a big turnout.

“We want to send a clear message to the EPD that we expected more protections for the Coosa,” he said.

The permit sets pollution limits and conditions of operation, and Georgia Power spokesman John Kraft has said the plant is in full compliance with the requirements.

Demon­breun-Chapman said the company has “a pretty decent wastewater treatment process in place,” but he’s looking for specific caps on heavy metal toxins such as mercury, arsenic and chromium.

He’d also like to see a final plan for how they’ll pump out the coal ash ponds, and stricter limits on the use of the old cooling towers — which won’t be replaced or modernized.

“They are using a large swath of the Coosa as their cooling mechanism,” Demon­breun-Chap­man said.

While the heated river water near the plant attracts fish looking for food, he said, it also damages the cold-blooded creatures’ health and reproductive cycles.

Anyone attending the public hearing must sign in if they want to speak and will be limited to three minutes each.

Lengthy or technical statements should be submitted in writing for the record.

Comments also may be sent to EPDcomments@dnr.state.ga.us (use “NPDES Permit Issuance — Georgia Power — Plant Hammond” in the subject line) or mailed to Georgia EPD, 2 MLK Jr. Drive, Suite 1152E, Atlanta, GA 30334. The deadline to have them considered is Friday.