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Locations of Gas Plants and Other Coal-tar Sites in the U.S.

THE STATE OF GEORGIA

Introduction

            Manufactured gas in Georgia dates from 1840, at Savannah. While Atlanta has taken center stage for all of the State’s history, its gas works was not created until 1851 (Ponce de Leon Place works), where the Atlanta Gas Light Company was originally chartered. The original gas company was started by Philadelphia money, but were all but destroyed in the 1864 siege of the city. After many changes and twists in ownership, the same corporate lineage now is responsible for remediation of most of the large and medium-sized gas works of the State, along with the several unremediated gas works of Atlanta, which have been subject to extensive criticism for lack of appropriate action to date. Macon followed Atlanta’s example with a gas works in 1852.

            Significant interurban railway activity beginning about 1888, including purchase of small town gas companies.

            Consolidation did not spread to Georgia until passage of the Atlanta Consolidating Ordinance of 1902, which paved the way for these mergers, which were followed by a rash of holding company acquisitions after about 1925. In these various moves, money from Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, mixed in various ways with influences of Henry L. Doherty, Pierce of Chicago, Consumers Power
Company (Detroit), through its control of Southeastern Power & Light Co., UGI, of Philadelphia, and Stone & Webster (Boston) at Columbus. Most of the players were transitory and pleased to turn a good profit on merger sales to others, rather than staying the course for decades.

Rapid 1920s growth of what was to become the George Power Company (chartered 1926) , from the American Public Service Co., about 1920 to South Georgia Public Service Co., to Columbus Electric & Power to Georgia Power Co. by 1930.

            “Colonel” A.E. Pierce & Associates, of Chicago, operating both through the Central Public Service Company, and Federated Utilities Company, of that city, entered the holding company competition for properties in Georgia, not long before the great crash of 1929, in at least six mid-size Georgia cities, through its subsidiary, Georgia Public Utilities Corporation, the holdings of which fell to the Atlanta Gas Light Company as a result of the 1935 Federal “death sentence” clause of the Public Utilities Holding Company Act. The Atlanta Gas Light Company, by now a Georgia firm, fell heir to most of the divested holdings, by about 1941. There is evidence that with the New Deal divestiture orders, the gas works of Georgia came under more-or-less the control of Georgians, as a result of this legislation.

            The municipal gas movement rose in 1898, and largely fell in 1904, when James L. Key campaigned for Mayor of Atlanta, and was defeated on his municipal takeover platform. Municipal works are known to have been established, by public take-over, at Dalton (ca. 1901) and  Albany (1912) and La Grange (built in 1913 for that purpose).

Acetylene gas plants were common in rural areas, serving small clusters of residences, mainly in “one horse” towns in which some patron could supply about $2,000 to underwrite the plant. Reference to these plants sometimes confuses the search for gas plants that generated PAH toxic residues of some concern.

            With the availability of regional coal supplies and good railroad transportation, the Koppers Corporation established by-product coke ovens at Conley, Garden City., and Marietta.

            Georgia Institute of Technology sent one of its first graduates (1892), C. J. Weinmeister, to the Georgia Railway & Electric Company as a gas engineer.  Utility management giant, Philip G. Gossler got his start at Macon, about 1912 and remained in Georgia until 1922, when joined the Columbia Gas System, then presided over by Edward Reynolds, Jr., formerly of Stone & Webster. Gossler rose to become Columbia’s President in 1926 and remained such until his death in 1945.

            The first reliable supply of natural gas for Georgia arrived in 1930, but as late as 1953, three counties in Georgia were still being served with manufactured gas, but these were the relatively populous counties of Chatham, Richmond, and Ware.

            Wood preservation sites and charcoal and wood alcohol and wood tar derivatives plants, were quite in the Georgia timber lands and the State appears to have the maximum number of wood tar sites nationally.

            As of the time of this writing, there is ample evidence that the Georgia EDP has not been a notably proactive agency in identifying FMGPs or in seeking their appropriate remediation. For cities with more than one FMGP, Georgia EDP seems content to deal with just one of these coal-tar sites at a time, and at hen only in certain cities. As well, the other types of coal-tar sites generally are not being dealt with.

Click the blue "EPA" link below to view the
Georgia map of the EPA 1985 Radian FMGP Report.

Click the green "Hatheway" link below to view the
Georgia map of Professor Hatheway's research.

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