Sierra Club plans to sue LG&E over coal ash pollution - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Sierra Club plans to sue LG&E over coal ash pollution

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Mercury, arsenic, and lead are just a few of the chemicals an environmental group claims LG & E is illegally dumping into the Ohio River.

The Sierra Club says a year's worth of continuous video shows the power company dumping pollution from its Mill Creek generating station into the Ohio "almost daily."

The images have led the Sierra Club to take the first step in filing suit against LG&E, claiming the company's permit only allows them to dump "occasionally".

"The permit says they will occasionally discharge into the river," said Thomas Pearce of the Sierra Club. "They have been continuously discharging into the river for as far as we can tell 20 years or more."

Monday, the Sierra Club sent LG&E a letter of intent to file suit. The power company now has 60 days to respond to the group's claims that it is violating the federal Clean Water Act. If the power company doesn't respond or can't agree on a resolution, the case will go to court.

Mark Romines of Valley Station has many complaints about the power plant, one of which is his concerns about the waste pond for coal ash debris.

"They claim to be a friend of the neighborhood, but I don't see anything friendly about this at all," said Romines who suffers from chronic asthma. He blames his health problems on the proximity of the power plant to his home, yet he says he can't leave.

"It's home. I grew up here. This is where my friends are. This is where my family is," besides, he said, the power plant has drastically affected his home value. "We couldn't get what we bought the house for because the property values are dropping."

Romines worries that a spill like that which occurred in North Carolina this February will happen in Louisville. In that incident, according to Fox News, 39,000 tons of coal ash and water spilled into the Dan River near the Virginia border.

"Should it break, these houses will get flooded," said Romines. "So, why kill the water life, and take a chance at killing us at the same time."

LG&E would not comment on the claims by the Sierra Club, or how it plans to respond, but Kentucky environmental regulators are sticking up for the company.

In an email statement to WDRB, the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet said, "The discharge is monitored under that Kentucky Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (KPDES) permit and has been and continues to be in compliance with permit requirements."

The state also said the company is not violating permit requirements regarding amount and frequency of flow, as claimed by the Sierra Club. "While the permit description and narrative of the fact sheet describe the direct discharge component of outfall 002 to the Ohio River as 'occasional', the permit effluent requirements do not restrict the frequency of the discharge."

The Sierra Club claims the cabinet is wrong in their interpretation of the permit.

"They can't issue permits by press release," said Pearce.

Pearce said the pending litigation means hope for a cleaner future.

"I think it's sickening what we are allowing to happen to our community, and I think other communities around the country are making the change and we deserve to be a part of the change."

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