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Environment Local News

EPA Will Hold Community Meeting With Black Leaf Neighbors

The Environmental Protection Agency has agreed to hold a community meeting after soil testing revealed contamination near 50 homes in Louisville’s Park Hill neighborhood.

The Environmental Protection Agency found signs of contamination—like heavy metals and pesticides—in every yard it tested near the former Black Leaf Chemical site in Park Hill. After letters were sent to homeowners, community activists complained that many questions were left unanswered.

The EPA has agreed to hold a community meeting with affected residents in the next 30 days, after encouragement from District 6 Councilman David James. The agency still hasn’t said what it intends to do about the contamination, which is high enough in nine of the properties that the soil may have to be removed and replaced.

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Environment Local News

EPA Hears Testimony on New Carbon Pollution Rule

The Environmental Protection Agency is in the midst of day-long hearings in Washington, D.C. and Chicago on proposed new standards from carbon pollution from power plants.

The speaking lists for both hearings were already near full before they began. The slots were first come, first served, and environmental groups snagged many of them. Representatives from the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council, as well as local environmental groups are scheduled to speak at both events. But the industries are represented too, with speakers from the National Association of Manufacturers, the National Mining Association and various trade groups.

The EPA’s proposed rule would only apply to new power plants, and would limit these plants to 1,000 pounds of carbon pollution per megawatt hour.

Under the rule, coal-fired power plants can still be built. But because of the new limits on carbon dioxide, any company interested in building a coal-fired power plant would be required to install advanced carbon control technologies, like carbon capture and sequestration.

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Environment Local News

EPA Raises Concerns About LG&E Plan For Trimble County Coal Ash Landfill

The Environmental Protection Agency has concerns about the environmental impact of a 218-acre coal ash landfill in Trimble County proposed by Louisville Gas and Electric.

LG&E is asking for permission to construct the landfill near its Trimble County power plant. If it’s permitted, the site will store coal ash—the waste that’s leftover after coal is burned. The company currently stores the Trimble County plant’s ash in an impoundment pond, but the pond is getting full and the company needs to find somewhere else to store the ash.

The EPA’s Region 4 office sent a letter to the Army Corps of Engineers yesterday, outlining its opposition to the project. In the letter, the EPA raises issues with the landfill’s affect on more than 54,000 feet of ecologically-sensitive streams and an acre of wetlands.

EPA Region 4 Administrator Gwen Keyes-Fleming also suggests LG&E may have overestimated the coal ash it will need to store in the landfill. In the letter, Keyes-Fleming says LG&E officials have indicated they plan to re-use some of the coal ash, but didn’t take that into account in the calculations of the landfill’s volume. She suggests a smaller landfill would have less effect on the environment.

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Environment Local News

Greenpeace Protests at Yum Brands Headquarters

Activists from Greenpeace unfurled a banner on the Yum Brand headquarters on Gardiner Lane early this morning, in a move they say is meant to protest the company’s paper supplier. The banner has a picture of a Sumatran tiger. It says “KFC, stop trashing my home.”

Louisville Metro Police spokesman Dwight Mitchell says four of the protesters were cited with criminal mischief and trespassing, and the remaining five were cited for trespassing. None were taken into custody.

The move is the latest in a Greenpeace campaign against Asia Pulp & Paper. Greenpeace says KFC is sourcing its paper from the paper giant, which they say has an abysmal environmental record in caring for Asian forests.

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Environment Local News

New Rankings Say Louisville’s Parks System Needs Work

Louisville has scored near the bottom on a new ranking of park systems in the nation’s 40 largest cities. The city came in 38th.

The Trust for Public Land scored the park systems on criteria including park size, the city’s investments in the parks and park access, which measures the percentage of residents living with a half-mile of a park. On a scale of zero to five park benches, Louisville received one lonely park bench.

The city did well on measurements of park size, thanks to behemoths like the Frederick Law Olmsted-designed Cherokee and Shawnee parks, but the city didn’t do so well on park access.

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Local News Politics

More than 40 Percent of Kentucky Democratic Voters Choose “Uncommitted” Over Obama

Despite having no official challenger in Kentucky’s Democratic primary, President Obama won less than 60 percent of the vote. The rest of the votes went to…no one.

With only about a 14 percent turnout statewide, about 42 percent of voters in the Democratic primary voted for “uncommitted” rather than choose President Obama. The president won many of the counties in the central and northern parts of the state, but voters in the far eastern and western regions overwhelming refused to support him.

Earlier this month, Mr. Obama won only 60 percent of the primary in West Virginia, where his opponent was a convicted felon. In Oklahoma, an anti-abortion activist won 20 percent of the vote against the president in that state’s primary.

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Local News Politics

McGarvey Wins Democratic Nod in 19th District Senate Race

Morgan McGarvey has won the Democratic nomination for Kentucky’s 19th Senate district.

McGarvey is an attorney in private practice in Louisville who ran on a platform of building the Ohio River Bridges Project and expanding the state’s tax base. During the campaign, he racked up endorsements from former State Auditor Crit Luallan, Attorney General Jack Conway, and state Senator Tim Shaughnessy, who currently holds the seat and isn’t running for re-election. McGarvey’s website also touts his support of biodiesel.

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Environment Local News

Kentucky Advocates for Safe Chemical Bill Lobby in Washington

Advocates for safe chemical legislation are in Washington D.C. today lobbying Kentucky’s congressional delegation to support updates to the nation’s toxic chemicals regulations.

Monica Unseld is a biologist and professor from Bardstown who made the trip. She says the country’s 36-year-old Toxic Substances Control Act is outdated and the industry is woefully unregulated.

“We’re trying to raise awareness of the toxic chemicals—there’s over 80,000 of them—that are completely unregulated,” she says. “And they go into our bodies and they’re causing illnesses.”

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Environment Local News

Councilman David James Asks EPA to Address Black Leaf Contamination With Community

District 6 Councilman David James is requesting the Environmental Protection Agency hold a public meeting to address recent soil testing near the Black Leaf Chemical site.

As we reported yesterday, the EPA found various levels of contamination in all 50 homes it tested near the Black Leaf Chemical site. Nine of those homes—nearly 20 percent—had higher levels of contaminates, including lead and benzo(a)pyrene, a probable carcinogen.

James sent an email to the agency this morning, as first reported by LEO Weekly. Legislative aid Rob Holtzmann confirmed the email, and said James wants the agency to meet with residents to clarify the results of the testing and what it could mean for the community.

“We’re very concerned about the communication level coming from the EPA about what’s really happening over there in the neighborhood,” Holtzmann said.

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Environment Local News

EPA Finds Contamination in All Homes Tested Near Black Leaf Site

Soil testing in the yards of fifty homes bordering the former Black Leaf Chemical site in Louisville’s Park Hill neighborhood has revealed levels of carcinogens in all of them. And nine of those homes had even higher levels of contamination.

The Environmental Protection Agency found toxic contamination at the 29-acre Black Leaf site in 2010, but scientists weren’t sure how far it had spread. Now, testing has revealed levels of heavy metals, pesticides and other toxic substances in 50 individual yards near the site. EPA On-Scene Coordinator Art Smith says all of the yards tested exceeded screening thresholds for at least one chemical.

“On the screening levels, it doesn’t mean that cleanup is necessary or that health risks are imminent. It just highlights potential chemicals that may need further investigation,” he said.

But nine of the homes tested had even higher levels of contamination, and exceeded a higher threshold the agency calls the Removal Management Level. These homes showed high levels of either lead or benzo(a)pyrene. In high levels, lead can cause intellectual development problems in children, and benzo(a)pyrene is a polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) and a probable human carcinogen.

Smith says it’s too soon to say if the levels are dangerous for the homeowners or how–or whether–the EPA will remediate the areas.