Residents React to Possible Apalachicola River Contamination by Gulf Power

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SNEADS Gulf Power is asking a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit, accusing the energy giant of polluting the Apalachicola River.

Several environmental groups claim the dangerous chemicals are coming from the Scholz Power Plant in Sneads. Sneads residents have mixed feelings about the claims.

Gulf Power opened the Scholz Power Plant in Sneads back in the 1950's.

The plant burns coal to generate electricity. The coal ash gets dumped into 40-acres of unlined pits on the property.

Environmental groups claims the coal ash is the source of arsenic, barium, cadmium, lead and selenium that has seeped into the nearby Apalachicola River.

Gulf Power denies those claims, saying the plant has been meeting regulatory standards since the 1980's.

Some residents are siding with gulf power.

"I don't think its bothering it, or else you would see more repercussions like deformed fish, or the plant life. None of that is showing in any environmental compact,” said resident OD Forrester.

“I happen to know two or three people from, that work at Gulf Power and they're not the kind of people that would do something to harm the environment," said Resident Mike Donahue.

Other residents aren't as easily convinced.

"They use to have a holding pond that they use to dump the ashes into,” explained resident Sylvester Simpson. “The fish in the pond were not suitable for eating. You'd cut them open man and they'd have a dark inside. If that's any of the effects that it would have on the river, something definitely needs to be done."

Gulf Power officials say water samples taken upstream and downstream of the plant don't show any significant differences.

But the environmental groups say independent testing shows water contamination.

With the plant scheduled to close next year, they're worried about what's left behind.

"If it continues to go, nothing happens, it can only get worse. I don't know, we've got a bad enough situation right now with the water, not having enough. The little we got, I think we need to protect,” said Simpson.

No word as to when the judge will issue a ruling.