UPDATE: Dozen urge state to hold KU accountable on Herrington Lake

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UPDATE, POSTED 2:40 P.M. AUG. 27, 2020

HARRODSBURG, Ky. (WTVQ) – A dozen environmental leaders and residents on the shores of Herrington Lake urged the state Energy and Environment Cabinet Thursday to hold Kentucky Utilities accountable and make the utility giant do more to clean up the pollution it has caused in the lake from its 65-year-old E.W. Brown power plant.

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The comments came during a 65-minute-long virtual public hearing, the first of its kind held by the Cabinet.

While 12 people actually spoke, as many as 70 tuned in, including officials from the state and environmental groups and KU.

One resident said she ad her husband bought their cabin on the lake 25 years ago and called it their, “Slice of heaven,” attracting visitors from as far away as London, England.

“We would like to see real accountability,” she said, noting they’d like to be able to pass the cabin on to their grandchildren with confidence the lake will be safe.

“You’ve got to understand how important Herrington Lake is to people of all walks of life,” said Emma Anderson, a former student at Centre College in Danville.

“We don’t think what they have done is enough,” added Brett Warner.

“They need to clean up the mess and stop all the mess-making by KU,” another resident stated.

Environmental groups have challenged KU’s plan for cleaning up coal ash from the plant that has leaked into the lake. They argue fish deformities ad other problems are the result of chemicals leaking into the water. May of the residents said they won’t eat fish caught in its waters.

The state is taking public comments through Sept. 15. They can be e-mailed to ewbrowncomments@ky.gov.

The Cabinet will release a summary ad its reaction the comments by the end of next month.

ORIGINAL STORY POSTED 3 P.M. WEDNESDAY, AUG. 26, 2020

HARRODSBURG, Ky. (WTVQ) – Kentucky’s Energy and Environment Cabinet will hold a virtual public hearing from noon-3 p.m. Thursday to take public comments on whether it should approve Kentucky Utilities’ plan to address the contamination of Herrington Lake from the E.W. Brown coal-fired power plant near Harrodsburg.

Kentucky Utilities has asked the state to approve its plan at the same time that a lawsuit is pending in federal court in Lexington. The suit was filed on behalf of members of the local communities who use Herrington Lake.

These local residents have called on KU to stop polluting the lake with discharges contaminated by toxic coal ash, and to clean up the decades’ worth of pollution already in the lake.

Critics say that instead of addressing these concerns, the utility giant has proposed a Corrective Action Investigation, Source Assessment and Risk Assessment Report that would fail to address and clean up pollution still entering or already in the lake.

Thursday’s virtual hearing will take comments from concerned residents and organizations.From your computer, tablet, or smartphone got to:
https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/455179029

The hearing also ca be attended by phone:+1 (646) 749-3122
Access Code: 455-179-029

According to EarthJustice, one of the environmental groups opposed to the report, residents of the area aren’t happy with the proposed plan.

“As a resident living full-time on Herrington Lake, I became concerned with the coal ash pollution issue several years ago. For years, I, along with many others, have requested a public hearing opportunity to express resident concerns, but also to understand the Cabinet’s response to the Corrective Action Plan,” resident Julie Pease told the group. “To my reading so far, this plan is no corrective action. This week’s hearing gives us part one, the opportunity to express resident concerns. I will continue to push for a second hearing wherein the Cabinet explains their response.”

“My wife Linda and I retired to Danville in 2007. We became aware of the pollution entering the lake in 2017-2018 when NPR stations WFPL and WEKU ran a series of articles on how coal ash from the E.W. Brown power plant was leaking into the lake and polluting it with mercury, arsenic, selenium, and other heavy metals,”Jim Porter, another resident, told the group. “From what I have learned, I would no longer swim in the lake or eat fish caught there. As of today, there are millions of cubic yards of coal ash buried next to the lake that are in contact with groundwater, and that is going to continue unless the company removes that ash or takes other steps to prevent the ongoing pollution of the lake.”

According to EarthJustice, six million tons of coal ash at E.W. Brown are buried beneath the surface and in contact with groundwater that flows into Herrington Lake. Contamination has been found in this groundwater, according to Kentucky Utilities’ own tests.

Instead of approving this plan, the Department of Environmental Protection should require KU to take more effective actions to identify the full extent of the problem, stop contaminating the lake, and clean up the mess they’ve already made, said Earthjustice, which is representing Kentucky Waterways Alliance and the Sierra Club, who jointly filed a lawsuit on behalf of residents who use Herrington Lake.

Herrington Lake is a 2,335-acre artificial lake located in Mercer, Garrard and Boyle counties in Kentucky. The lake was created by Kentucky Utilities’ damming of the Dix River, a tributary of the Kentucky River, in 1925 to generate hydroelectric power.