The company that owns Ashley Pointe Mobile Home Park in southwest Jefferson County has paid $11,000 in fines and agreed to a corrective action plan to settle state accusations of discharging raw sewage into an Ohio River tributary.
SSK Communities, an Erlanger-based company with 22 trailer parks in Kentucky, was cited in September by the Department of Environmental Protection. Samples taken of the overflowing sewage showed 372 times the state’s maximum exposure level of E. coli bacteria, which can cause gastrointestinal illnesses.
The Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting reported last summer on Ashley Pointe’s sewage stream into the tributary, as well as park residents’ years of complaints of leaks and odors. The Jefferson County Health Department has threatened to seek the revocation of Ashley Pointe’s license if the leaks persist.
Jeff Cummins, director of the agency’s Division of Enforcement, said this week that SSK has paid the $11,000 in fines and, earlier this month, submitted a corrective action plan that includes the hiring of a certified waste collection system company to operate Ashley Pointe’s private sewage system. (Read the agreement)
“The operator is responsible for seeing that the collection system operates properly and, if there are any backups or overflows, they are addressed in a timely manner,” Cummins said.
SSK, co-owned by Nathan Smith, the chairman of Attorney General Jack Conway’s campaign for governor, has maintained that the sewage system malfunctioned only because of vandalism by a vindictive former employee and a former resident. It installed locked metal rods over lift stations and manholes. Next up: security cameras.
“The company’s cooperated fully with the Division of Water to fully resolve the issue,” said SSK spokeswoman Kathy Groob. “The company has taken the steps of hiring an independent system collection operator to manage the lift stations and the collection system. So they’ve now got an outside expert to help work on this issue and keep it functioning to the best of its ability.”
The state Division of Water had cited SSK twice before, in 2013 and 2014, for polluting public waterways. SSK denied the claims. In this case, the matter was upgraded to the agency’s Division of Enforcement.
Maps show a creek starting in Ashley Pointe, crossing under the Gene Snyder Freeway and connecting with Pond Creek. From there, Pond Creek flows westward, then follows Dixie Highway south until it merges into Salt River, which feeds into the Ohio River at West Point.
Ashley Pointe, which has 276 residents, used to be known as Country Breeze Mobile Home Park. Its sewage system was connected to the Metropolitan Sewer District in 1995. The park was bought and renamed by SSK in 1997.
In a separate issue involving Ashley Pointe, 16 current and former residents of SSK trailer parks in Kentucky filed a class-action lawsuit last October, accusing SSK of illegal eviction tactics and excessive charges for water. The suit, filed by Louisville attorney James Craig, is pending in Jefferson County Circuit Court.
Reporter James McNair can be reached at email@example.com or (502) 814-6543.
This story was reported by Louisville Public Media’s Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting.
See the document here.