If the Plant Scherer lawsuits filed Thursday in DeKalb County State Court are successful, they could have broad implications for power companies.
One suit, filed on behalf of Ronald and Traci Bedenbaugh of Juliette, claims that Plant Scherer owners committed fraud by proclaiming to health care providers, government agencies and the public that their coal ash waste is environmentally safe.
It also alleges that the Scherer owners were negligent because they “recklessly” failed to analyze their own coal ash waste or study reasonable standards for safely getting rid of it.
Georgia Power officials always point out that they follow state and federal rules. But there are no coal ash regulations.
The Georgia Department of Public Health compiled a “scoping report” last year that concluded there was no evidence to show Plant Scherer was harming anyone. But the report acknowledged the sparse information available about groundwater quality and air pollution around the plant.
If Georgia Power were found negligent for deliberately failing to gather that kind of information -- even though it’s not required by law -- that could set a powerful precedent, said Abigail Dillen, coal program director for the environmental law firm Earthjustice.