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Feds orders Ga. to fix dust plans at power plants

Published on NewsOK Modified: May 8, 2014 at 3:25 pm •  Published: May 8, 2014

ATLANTA (AP) — Federal environmental officials are requiring that Georgia regulators better explain how a major utility will prevent dust from escaping coal-fired power plants.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy ruled that Georgia's Environmental Protection Division did not include enough information in the permits for five power plants to explain how they would prevent coal dust particles from escaping the site.

Her ruling published Thursday affects the air permits for the Hammond, Kraft, McIntosh, Wansley and Scherer plants operated by Southern Co. subsidiary Georgia Power. An environmental group, GreenLaw, had challenged several aspects of those permits, including that state regulators failed to include concrete steps meant to control dust buildups. Instead, the permits required that the plants take "reasonable precautions."

Dust can be generated when coal is brought to a power plant or while it sits in large piles before it is burned. If not contained, the dust can spread locally, creating quality-of-life issues and degrading air quality. EPA officials set limits on the particle pollution that comes from coal dust because it can lodge in the lungs, causing health problems ranging from coughing to premature death in those with heart or lung disease.

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