Public Service Commission holds hearing on Bullitt Utilities' du - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Public Service Commission holds hearing on Bullitt Utilities' dumping activities

Posted: Updated: Aug 27, 2015 04:30 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A private utility company dumping toxic waste into public waters wants to surrender the site to the state.

It's a decision that will affect 700 homes.

There were no easy answers Thursday before the Public Service Commission in Frankfort. While consensus says the Hunters Hollow sewage site is failing, simply allowing the company to walk away comes with complications.

"Our client, Bullitt Utilities, we believe, has fought the good fight," said Robert Moore, attorney for Bullitt Utilities.

Bullitt Utilities is waving the proverbial white flag, saying it can't afford to fix its literal mess. The sewage plant in Hunters Hollow collapsed in March 2014. Despite temporary efforts, raw, toxic waste dumped in the nearby creek and eventually reached the Salt River.

According to a state order, the waste water from the private utility is supposed to be connected into the county's sanitation system.

"Is that connection functioning as it was designed, as it was intended?" asked a Public Service Commission attorney.

"Yes it is to the best of my knowledge," said Chris Cogan, power of attorney and son of Carroll Cogan, who owns Bullitt Utilities. The Florida resident admits he hasn't visited the Hunters Hollow site in two months.

Those who see it more regularly, say Chris Cogan's assessment of the situation is wrong.

"It does -- it stops up several times a day because you are trying to throttle flow," said Jerry Kennedy, of the Bullitt County Sanitation District.

The Public Service Commission can either approve or deny the request to abandon. The Kentucky Attorney General's office is fighting to block it.

"We think it's improper at this time to allow Bullitt Utilities to abandon their obligation to these customers without some kind of long-term guarantee of service," said Greg Dutton, Assistant Attorney General.

Complicating the matter are Bullitt Utilities' outstanding issues: millions of dollars in debt, a pending request to raise customers' bills 120 percent and an ongoing investigation into the collapse.

And even if it's approved, Franklin Circuit Court would have to appoint a receiver -- someone or some agency to continue sewer operations.

"It's a dangerous precedent -- a slippery slope -- when you start going down through this, but at this point, what option do you have?" Kennedy asked. "If you don't let them abandon the plant, the company will go bankrupt, and if it goes bankrupt, the plan is abandoned."

Kennedy says his agency could be a receiver -- but it needs more space for the waste of 700 homes, and that the Division of Water won't approve his plans to expand.

"It is a very challenging situation, no question about it, and what the commission has to do is find the right balance here," said Andrew Melnykovych, spokesperson for the Kentucky Public Service Commission.

Time is ticking to surrender this site. The request to surrender is Sept. 1. Commissioners hope to have an answer before that date.

Copyright 2015 by WDRB News. All rights reserved.

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