Metro Government Fines LG&E for Coal Ash Violations at Cane Run

by Erica Peterson on November 7, 2011

Louisville Gas and Electric is facing a fine of up to $26,000. The penalty levied by Metro Government is in response to equipment malfunctions that caused clouds of coal ash to leave the company’s Cane Run plant.

The Notice of Violation–sent on Friday–alleges ash from LG&E’s Cane Run power station left the company’s property on several days last summer—on days when the company’s sludge processing plant was malfunctioning.

Residents living near Cane Run say fly ash leaves the company’s landfills and contaminates their homes on a daily basis, but the problem got worse for several days during the equipment failure.

The Air Pollution Control District also cites LG&E for not taking reasonable measures to prevent the ash from leaving, and for failing to report the malfunction as it’s required to under its permit.

Recent tests by both LG&E and the APCD have showed different—but small—amounts of fly ash on homes near the plant. Assistant County Attorney Stacy Dott says the city is concerned with any amount of ash leaving the property.

“It demonstrates that fly ash has entered the surrounding neighborhood,” Dott said. “And in this Notice of Violation we’re not contesting the amounts of the percentages, we’re just saying that on certain occasions we have documented that it has crossed the property line and did cause a nuisance to the neighborhood.”

LG&E spokeswoman Chris Whelan says the company is still reviewing the violation notice, and she wouldn’t comment on whether LG&E agrees with the assessment. She added that since the incidents during the summer, measures have already been taken to reduce the amount of dust leaving Cane Run.

“We’ve got on-site watering trucks, we’ve restricted traffic along the ash ponds, we’ve seeded, we’ve capped the ponds,” Whelan said. “So we’re trying to do all kinds of things, basically to be a better neighbor and ensure that we’re eliminating any extra dust out there.”

LG&E could end up paying only $19,500 if the matter is settled quickly. Dott says the APCD will require remedial action from LG&E as part of the violation settlement.

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