Three conservation groups filed a federal lawsuit against Gulf Power's Scholz Generating Plant in Sneads. They claim the company is illegally discharging dangerous pollutants into the Apalachicola River.
Earthjustice is representing the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, The Water Keeper Alliance and the Apalachicola Riverkeeper in the suit. The legal action claims Gulf Power has a federal Clean Water Act permit that allows it to discharge treated coal ash and chlorinated condensing water into the Apalachicola River. The groups contend that contamination is leaking at other points on the site and not receiving proper treatment, and that those discharges are not covered by the permit.
"This is a public hazard," said Earthjustice attorney Alisa Coe. "Taxpayers have spent millions over the years to buy huge tracts of land around the Apalachicola to protect the river. Gulf Power does not have the right to pollute our public river and that's why we're going to court."
Gulf Power Corporate Communications Director Rebecca Boles said that Gulf Power has been monitoring the plant since the mid 80's and has always been in compliance.
"After receiving Earthjustice's letter of intent, Gulf Power and the Department of Environmental Protection conducted follow-u site inspections and sampling tests.
"All test results were determined to be within compliance and did not support the allegations made. All groundwater and surface water testing as required by our permits is submitted to regulatory agencies on a regular, ongoing basis and we are in full compliance. We plan to fight these allegations through the legal system," Boles added.
The environment groups hope for a jury trial to hear the arguments.