Lithium, arsenic leaking into ground around McIntosh plant: Lakeland Electric

Lakeland Electric says routine testing indicates toxic chemicals are seeping into the groundwater around its C.D. McIntosh power plant, situated on Lake Parker.

The plant burns coal to produce energy, creating a by-product called gypsum, which contains lithium and arsenic. The gypsum is mounded up and retained across the street from the plant.

When the groundwater surrounding the pile was tested at several sites earlier this year, the level of arsenic was 2.8-times higher than what the federal government considers acceptable. The level of lithium was triple the government’s standards.

“The testing so far is showing nothing is moving off-site and it is all contained here,” Catheryn Lacy, spokesperson for Lakeland Electric, told FOX 13.

Lacy said the contamination has not reached surrounding ponds on the power company’s property or made it into the aquifer, however, Golder Associates, an engineering firm that is monitoring the situation, said the problem should be corrected “as soon as feasible.”

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Sean McGinnis, who monitors water for Lakeland Electric, said the company will probably take the next few months to find the best way to stop the chemicals from seeping out in the first place.

“Then once the best option is determined, implementing it, depending on what the option is, could take a few months to a couple of years to complete,” he said.

Lakeland Electric plans to close down the McIntosh within the next five years.