pollution

Coal Ash Is Still Polluting Kentucky’s Green River

Dec 4, 2019
Erica Peterson

Often, pollution is invisible. It’s in the exhaust particles we breathe walking past traffic, or the traces of mercury in Kentucky fish. But at the Green Station Landfill in Webster County, it’s obvious.

At times, the coal ash leachate shimmers black like an oil slick. At other times, it oozes chemical green. Sometimes, it stains the soil the color of rusted molasses. And in videos, the coal ash liquids trickle off the landfill like teal glacial waters leaving behind a pale salty residue. 

Ryan Van Velzer

Half of all the public drinking water systems tested in a new report from the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet are showing evidence of PFAS contamination.

These chemicals belong to a class of more than 5,000 compounds often called “forever chemicals” and are known to increase the risk of cancer, among other health problems.

Wikimedia Commons

Tap water delivered by more than 2,000 water systems across the Ohio Valley contain pollutants, many harmful to human health, even though they mostly meet federal drinking water standards. That’s according to a newly-updated database released by the Environmental Working Group, an advocacy organization. 

President Donald Trump Tuesday toured Shell Chemical’s soon-to-be completed ethane cracker complex in Monaca, Pennsylvania, to tout his administration’s commitment to expanding energy production. The facility is part of what industry boosters hope will be a new plastics and chemical manufacturing base in the upper Ohio Valley, but many residents here worry about the heat-trapping gases and plastic waste such an industry would produce.

New Basin To Reduce Sewage Flowing Into Beargrass Creek

May 24, 2019
Ryan Van Velzer/WFPL

  The Metropolitan Sewer District has completed a new sewer overflow basin to capture sewage and stormwater that would otherwise pollute city waterways.

Roughly 110 million gallons of raw sewage and stormwater used to flow into Beargrass Creek every year, damaging the city’s natural resources, said MSD Engineering Director John Loechle.

Wikimedia Commons

This all started 5 years ago - when Dayton Power and Light along with a handful of energy companies challenged the state of Ohio. They said the state permits couldn’t use a standard set by the Ohio River Valley Sanitation Commission, known as ORSANCO, that limits the temperature of the companies’ waste discharges into the Ohio River. That’s because the state had never officially adopted the ORSANCO standards in Ohio law. And the companies won. 

“It was a shock.” 

Census Data Show Some KY Counties Among Nation’s Poorest

Dec 14, 2018
Alexandria Kanik/Ohio Valley ReSource

New data from the Census Bureau show eastern Kentucky is still struggling with poverty and lagging far behind national and state averages in terms of income.

Sydney Boles/Ohio Valley ReSource

Jason Walker spends $50 per month on bottled water. He spends three hours each week standing by the small stream that runs near his house, pumping creek water into a thousand-gallon tank.

“You have to catch the creek at the right time when it’s clear,” Walker said. “Whatever you pump, whatever the creek looks like, is what you’re going to pump, and that’s going to pump right into your house.”

 

Creative Commons

Environmental groups are challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s new deadlines for the closure of the country’s unlined coal ash ponds, which gave power plants an extra 18 months to close their ponds if they’re polluting groundwater. 

The pollution comes from coal ash, the waste leftover from burning coal for energy. It often includes carcinogens and neurotoxins. 

Earthjustice attorney Tom Cmar filed the petition for review in the D.C. Court of Appeals on Monday. He says the rules don’t adequately protect the public from environmental harm. 

Kentucky Environmental Protection Cabinet

  The Sierra Club and Kentucky Waterways Alliance can move forward with a lawsuit against Kentucky Utilities for contaminating Herrington Lake with pollution leftover from burning coal for electricity.

On Monday, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a ruling that blocked the environmental groups from suing Kentucky Utilities, which provides electricity for 77 counties in Kentucky.

Toxic 'Teflon' Chemicals On EPA Regulatory Agenda

Sep 6, 2018
Parkerburg News & Sentinel

Environmental Protection Agency officials told a Congressional panel Thursday that the agency will announce by the end of the year whether it will take the next step to regulate a group of toxic fluorinated chemicals found in some water systems in the Ohio Valley.

Kara Lofton/WVPB

When President Trump wants to talk coal, he comes to West Virginia. So it was not surprising that the president visited Charleston just hours after his administration unveiled a long-awaited overhaul of the Obama administration’s signature climate change regulation, the Clean Power Plan.

“We’re cancelling Obama’s illegal, anti-coal-destroying regulations. The so-called Clean Power Plan,” Trump told the cheering crowd.

kentucky.com

A Lexington government official says a number of Lexington area creeks and streams do not meet State Division of Water standards for recreational use.

Members of Lexington’s Environmental Quality and Public Works Committee got a rundown last week on about a half dozen watershed areas within Fayette County.  

 


Nicole Erwin/ Ohio Valley ReSource

In the rich land of Christian County, wheat is milled for McDonald's biscuits, corn is turned into ethanol, and grazing cows support the state’s leading dairy.

This is Kentucky’s breadbasket, and a river runs through it: the South Fork of Little River. 


Over the past few years, there have been numerous documented instances of contaminated water leaching from a coal ash pond in Central Kentucky into groundwater and directly into Herrington Lake. Now, state regulators are investigating high levels of selenium in the lake’s fish, and they have fined utility Louisville Gas & Electric and Kentucky Utilities $25,000.