Two environmental groups filed a federal lawsuit today alleging that Louisville Gas & Electric violated the Clean Water Act by illegally discharging waste into the Ohio River.
The Sierra Club and Earthjustice allege that waste water from one of LG&E’s coal ash ponds seeped into the river on a near-constant basis for the past five years.
Sierra Club organizers point to a year’s worth of time lapse photos collected from a hidden camera across the river from the Mill Creek power plant.
LG&E has a state permit that allows for discharge into the Ohio River on an “occasional” basis. WFPL’s Erica Peterson months ago wrote about the permit and the pending legal battle over what constitutes an “occasional” discharge.
The state’s Energy and Environment Cabinet, which issued the permit, said LG&E hasn’t violated the agreement.
A spokesperson for LG&E said Wednesday afternoon that a company statement was forthcoming.
Update: 3:35 p.m. LG&E Responds
Here’s a statement from the utility:
While we do not comment on the specifics of litigation, LG&E takes its environmental responsibilities seriously. The utility industry is one of the most regulated industries in the nation.
Mill Creek’s permit allows it to return treated water to the river through either of two permitted outflow areas after the water has been treated through the ash pond settling process. Both of these outflow points are legally permitted for the release of treated water back into the river as confirmed by the Kentucky Division of Water. The Kentucky Division of Water, the state regulator that oversees the utilities’ water discharge, publicly stated Mill Creek is operating within compliance of its water discharge permit. Water is important in the process of generating electricity and is used throughout the plant in steam generation, in the cooling towers and the transport of coal combustion residuals. The company regularly monitors this water and reports the results to the regulatory agency.