Posted on Feb 21, 2013

Thirteen lawsuits have been filed recently in DeKalb County State Court against Robert W. Scherer Power Plant, a coal-fired power plant in Juliette, accused of knowingly releasing pollution that allegedly contributed to Georgia residents’ illnesses and lowered the value of their properties. In recent years, dozens of Juliette residents have found unsafe levels of uranium in their well water, and some have even been diagnosed with uranium poisoning and cancer. Although uranium occurs naturally in the region’s underground rocks, residents have raised concerns about whether Plant Scherer’s unlined coal ash pond, which contains toxic heavy metals, could be making the problem worse by contaminating the groundwater. Some residents have also complained about blasting from the nearby Vulcan Materials rock quarry, claiming that the quarry activities stir up dust containing toxic materials and wash them into the groundwater with the quarry’s runoff.

Contaminated Well Water May Have Caused Cancer

One plaintiff involved in the litigation, a man named Gary Sharp, had lived in Juliette near Plant Scherer for nearly 15 years when he was diagnosed with lung cancer last year. Sharp, who has never smoked, is currently in Tennessee undergoing chemotherapy for his cancer, but his lawyer has filed suit against the owners of Plant Scherer and Vulcan Materials. His complaint accuses the companies of knowingly releasing pollution that contributed to his cancer and devalued his property. Sharp has a rental property on his land, but it generates no income since he feels obligated to warn potential tenants that the well water could be contaminated. Sharp also lost his trucking company and electrical contracting business when the lung cancer rendered him unable to work. “I’ve lost my income and my livelihood. It could be that I lose my life,” said Sharp. “Regardless of how (the lawsuit) turns out, the damage it’s caused me physically is unrecoverable.”

Adverse Effects of Heavy Metal Pollution

High concentrations of radon, a derivative of uranium, have been found in the water of some Juliette residents, and when radon is vaporized into the air by washers and showers, it can be breathed into the lungs and cause potentially life-threatening side effects. In fact, according to the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), airborne radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States, after smoking. In addition to cancer, nearby residents to the power plant and rock quarry have complained of a number of other serious illnesses and medical conditions. Ronald and Traci Bedenbaugh, for example, are suing a number of companies, including Georgia Power, its parent company Southern Co., Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia and Vulcan Materials Co. for adverse reactions ranging from nosebleeds and muscle spasms to aches, joint pain, stomach problems, fatigue, endometriosis, seizures and fibromyalgia.

Consult Our Experienced Attorneys for Legal Help

The lawsuits target Scherer and its unlined coal ash waste pond, which plaintiffs claim has contaminated the groundwater, and a handful also name the nearby Vulcan Materials rock quarry. The complaints allege that the defendants engaged in negligence, fraud, battery and racketeering, the latter based on claims that Plant Scherer owners, including Georgia Power and Southern Co., conspired to avoid the cost of putting a lining in the 750-acre coal ash pond. The plaintiffs are seeking unspecified damages for personal injury, medical expenses and property damage, as well as punitive damages. If you have experienced a serious illness or medical condition that you believe to have been caused by the negligence of another person, party or company in Georgia, consult our knowledgeable attorneys at Rechtman & Spevak as soon as possible. Our lawyers have years of experience protecting the legal rights of injured consumers across the state of Georgia, and will work diligently to help you pursue the financial compensation you deserve.

Jaret A. Spevak
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Atlanta Personal Injury & Workers’ Compensation Attorney With 20+ Years Experience