Max Blau is a freelance journalist in Atlanta. His work has been featured on NPR and also in VOX, Kaiser Health News and Georgia Health News. He writes about health, criminal justice and environmental issues in the South.
The fight over the future of Georgia Power’s coal ash ponds has returned to the Gold Dome. And its outcome could influence whether thousands of Georgians will need to worry about groundwater contamination potentially caused by the toxic waste sites.
In the days after a pastor unknowingly spread COVID-19 at two funerals in Albany early this year, Gov. Brian Kemp looked to curb further spread of the virus. He issued a stay-at-home order, ordered the closure of some businesses and implored Georgians to avoid large funerals.
The outbreak spurred Georgia health officials to ban events of more than 50 people unless attendees practiced social distancing. But less than a month after urging Georgians to follow his advice, Kemp started attending funerals, memorial services and public viewings in ways that were at odds with his administration’s own guidelines, a Georgia Health News investigation found.
Georgia Power paid top dollar to buy land from residents living near waste sites at its power plants. Environmentalists fear it’s a tactic to forestall the cleanup bill from new regulations for coal ash.
State health officials had just told a conference filled with industry players about a federal program that would dramatically increase payments for care provided to nursing home residents. But there was a catch: To obtain the bonus money, the nursing home had to be owned by a public agency affiliated with a hospital.
An expert on the industry, who requested anonymity, reviewed the documents obtained by GHN about the violations, and called the series of collapses at the site “the worst thing I’ve ever read short of an entire landfill being shut down.”