Bullitt Utilities responds to WDRB reports about sewage leaking from Hunters Hollow site
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- After WDRB exposed toxic sewage from the Hunters Hollow waste water treatment plant leaking into public waters, the man in charge of Bullitt Utilities sat down for an interview to give the company's side of the story.
There was a catastrophic failure and collapse at the site in March of last year.
"This is a disaster that happened to a 40-year-old wastewater treatment plant," Chris Cogan said.
Cogan, who lives in Florida, has power of attorney for his ill father Carroll Cogan, who owns the company.
Chris Cogan calls our previous reports inaccurate.
WDRB's Gilbert Corsey -- who first told you about this story -- asked questions via video conference, wanting to know what Cogan found inaccurate about our reports.
"Why don't you pick one or two things that you want to point out as inaccurate," Corsey said.
"Well Gilbert, as I said, I know everyone is frustrated," Cogan said. "Our hearts go out to the people at Hunters Hollow and that area of Bullitt County, but you know, we are heavily regulated by a number of different agencies and we cannot simply go and rebuild a treatment plant."
Cogan says regulating state agencies were unresponsive in the aftermath. He also says an agreement with the Bullitt County Sanitation District to take the sewage kept falling through.
"If BCSD hadn't reneged on the agreement to take 60,000 gallons of flow a day, we would have been fine," he said. "We would have had the time and financial resources to come up with a long-term financial solution."
Bullitt County Sewer District Manager Jerry Kennedy says the lack of the long-term solution and changing plans is what caused the delay.
"You could never pin them down on what exactly they wanted to do," Kennedy said about Bullitt Utilities.
There is an an agreement in place now and the district is taking the sewage.
"The connection is working today as we speak," Cogan said.
But Kennedy produced a picture he says was taken at the site Thursday that shows otherwise. He says there are overflows almost every day and it's Bullitt Utilities' responsibility to fix it.
"The district was essentially forced to accept their solution of hooking up the old pump station to us," Kennedy said. "We told them we could not regulate, you could not regulate that flow from that pump station using the valve arrangement."
So sewage has been leaking into the water for months, and people who live nearby say they can't escape the smell.
When WDRB took a sample of the water last month to a lab, the results showed E. coli levels in the creek three times higher than the legal limit.
"I'm not going to even respond to that," Cogan said when asked about the impact on the environment and shown a bottle with dark colored water from near the site. "If you want to have this interview to have some kind of a 'gotcha' moment, you're not going get it from me. I have no idea where this came from."
Cogan maintains Bullitt Utilities did everything possible to clean up the mess.
"Bullitt Utilities hadn't had a rate increase in a decade," he said. "So where does that money come from? My father's engineering firm funded it for decades. The problem is, my father's 88 years old. He doesn't have an engineering firm anymore. There is no more money. We've borrowed. We gave every dime there was to give."
Cogan says Bullitt Utilities is now more than $3 million in debt.
The Kentucky Public Service Commission has authorized the company to walk away from the treatment plant. The temporary operator will likely become Bullitt County Sanitation District.
We reached out to the state Division of Water. A spokesperson never responded to our request for an interview.
WDRB discovered a number of violations at sites owned by Chris Cogan's brother, Martin Cogan. He was supposed to sit down for an interview with us Thursday, but canceled at the last minute. This was the second time he's canceled.
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