LG&E Fined by Metro Government for Coal Ash Contamination

by Erica Peterson on August 2, 2011

A coal ash cloud forms above LG&E's Cane Run Power Station after an equipment malfunction Saturday evening. Photo by Greg Walker. Metro Government has fined Louisville Gas & Electric for letting coal ash leave the Cane Run Power Station and contaminate nearby homes.

Two weeks ago, LG&E released test results that found ash on three area homes. Now, the city has fined the company $4,000 for violating the district’s fugitive dust rule.

The Air Pollution Control District has already met with the company and will decide internally whether the fine is sufficient. APCD spokesman Matt Stull says there could be other penalties for the violation.

“There also might be steps that are taken in regard to remediating the situation and trying to make sure it doesn’t happen again in the future,” he said. “That’s a goal of the district, to try and not just punish a source but also to make sure that this kind of thing doesn’t happen in the future.”

The case is complicated by a mechanical malfunction over the weekend that sent clouds of ash into the sky. The company shut down its sludge processing plant, which is a machine that mixes coal ash with lime to create a cement-like substance called Pozotec.

LG&E Spokeswoman Chris Whelan says the machine has been shut down indefinitely, and the company has formed a task force to determine the problem.

“We regret that there’s been any incident in that area,” she said. “The neighbors, we’re mindful of their concerns there and that’s the reason that we have assigned a task force to ensure that we get this equipment fixed and that we’re being a good neighbor.”

This new incident may be included in the previous complaint, which the APCD has done in the past.

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