Environment
12:22 pm
Wed April 10, 2013

LG&E, Metro Government Reach Tentative Agreement on Several Coal Ash Violations

Louisville Gas and Electric has reached an agreement with Metro Government over alleged coal ash violations at the company's Cane Run Power Station.

Under the terms of the settlement, LG&E will pay $10,500. That's about 44 percent of the $24,000 fine that was originally proposed in July, but this settlement only includes two of the eight incidents from the Notice of Violation. In addition, the company will have to comply with a new plan to control emissions and fugitive dust from the plant.

Problems with coal ash at Cane Run have been plaguing the plant--and nearby residents--for the past few years. Coal ash is a combustion product that's produced when coal is burned, and LG&E disposes of the ash in a landfill and pond on site. But residents have complained that the ash is leaving the plant, and contaminating their homes.

The original Notice of Violation encompassed several different fugitive dust and odor complaints, as I reported in July:

They include several instances of fugitive dust—when coal ash from the plant's landfill left the company's property. There were also 20 odor complaints, where residents reported smelling sulfur near the plant, and one instance of an equipment malfunction that sent brown smoke out the plant's smoke stack.

LG&E spokeswoman Chris Whelan says the company has taken measures to control dust at the plant.

“We’ve taken a considerable amount of steps,” she said. “We’ve done exterior watering, we’ve put up the dust screen, we’ve put up all kinds of additional initiatives that basically help us contain the dust at that area.”

The company has also installed an automatic control system on its sludge processing plant. Several of the violations stemmed from the plant malfunctioning, and spewing dust until an employee could reach the controls and shut it off. The new system will shut it off automatically.

LG&E spokeswoman Chris Whelan says the plan is one of the most comprehensive dust and odor control plans in the industry.

"We understand that we’ve had issues and we’re doing what we can to be mindful of the neighbors and that situation," she said.

LG&E settled several previous coal-ash related violations for $19,500 last April. And there's another outstanding alleged violation and a proposed $10,000 fine from an incident in September. The Cane Run Power Plant is scheduled to be closed in 2015, and converted to natural gas.

This new settlement still needs to be approved by the Air Pollution Control Board, which will consider the agreement at its next meeting on April 17. An Air Pollution Control District spokesman says the six other items from the July Notice of Violation will be resolved in the future.