People living near the Cane Run Power Plant say it was a smelly weekend in their neighborhood.
Residents have had issues with coal ash, dust and odors from the plant for several years. The Air Pollution Control District has fined power plant owner Louisville Gas and Electric nearly $150,000 since 2011 for violations at the plant, and in December, a group of residents filed a lawsuit against the company.
Now, according to emails sent by local resident Greg Walker, the odors made life miserable in his neighborhood this weekend. He described it as a rotten egg smell, and said he’s continuously worried about the health of his family.
“Everyone in my family right now has sinus problems, headaches, stomach pains, burning of nose and throat, and I hear this throughout my neighborhood,” he wrote in an email. “If we don’t care no more about our kids future than this, I don’t know where it will stop because I am raising three grandchildren next to a hell hole.”
Air Pollution Control District spokesman Tom Nord says agency staffers responded to the complaints twice—once on Friday and once on Sunday. He says the compliance officer met with LG&E plant personnel as well as one of the complainants, and the agency is currently investigating the matter.
The Pleasure Ridge Park Fire Department also responded on Friday and Saturday, but Fire Chief Vincent Smith says the firemen couldn’t detect any odors.
Industries in Louisville are permitted to release a certain amount of emissions, but nobody is permitted to be a nuisance. So if an odor crosses the company’s property line, the Air Pollution Control District can take action.
Louisville Gas and Electric acknowledged the odors, which spokeswoman Natasha Collins said was hydrogen sulfide caused by weather conditions.
“During the extreme cold weather we experienced during the first 5 weeks of 2014, the South Ditch at Cane Run, which is the furthest ditch away from the neighbors – located predominantly along the south side of the landfill, was frozen. In normal ambient conditions, we treat this ditch with roughly 5 gallons of potassium permanganate (a solution used for water treatment and commercially available at home improvement stores) at the first signs of odor, which effectively eliminates the odor source. Anticipating this past week’s warm weather would thaw the ditch, potentially triggering increased odors, plant personnel increased the usual dosage of potassium permanganate, applying 20 gallons of the solution to the ditch Thursday afternoon and early Friday to address any odor concerns that might arise. Despite those preventative efforts, we acknowledge there may have been some faint odors Friday morning when the APCD received complaints from neighbors. It is important to note, however, the odor threshold for Hydrogen Sulfide is far lower than the level for health concerns and at no time did any potential odors pose a health threat to the surrounding community or plant employees.
Upon receiving notification of the complaints from the APCD, plant personnel again increased the dosage of potassium permanganate – treating the area of the South Ditch with roughly 350 gallons of the product by Friday afternoon. Since Friday morning, Cane Run plant personnel have continued to monitor the odor from multiple locations. In addition, the South Ditch area was treated with another 50 gallons of potassium permanganate on Saturday and made additional arrangements to apply hydrated lime to the entire area today (Sunday). Prior to noon Sunday, two treatments of hydrated lime were applied to the area and at last check, personnel monitoring the odors detected no odors. Plant personnel will continue to monitor and treat the area with hydrated lime as needed and continue to take daily hydrogen sulfide readings until the root cause has been completely mitigated.”
Councilwoman Attica Scott says she’s planning to ask her colleague Tom Owen to invite new APCD Executive Director Keith Talley to the next meeting of the Metro Sustainability Committee to discuss the agency’s reorganization, and the effect that’s having on enforcement.