LG&E facing permit obstacles for proposed coal ash landfill in Trimble County (UPDATE)

Last October, a public hearing was held in Trimble County by the Kentucky Division of Waste Management concerning Louisville Gas & Electric’s application for a permit to build a 200-acre coal ash landfill. Ronald Gruzesky, the manager of the Solid Waste Branch, and LG&E spokesman Paul Puckett took questions and comments from the 100 Trimble citizens who attended — and who were universally angry and disapproving of the proposal to put this landfill in their neighborhood. A few of the people who spoke at the hearing also mentioned that there was a cave under the proposed site, which could complicate matters for the permit.

Yesterday, LEO Weekly spoke with LG&E spokesman Chip Keeling, who says there has been no problem with the permit so far.

“We’re just waiting on the permit now, we haven’t had any issues,” Keeling says. “I think there was some question at one time about whether there were caves at the location. And the fact is there are not. It’s not really a story.”

However, Gruzesky at the Division of Waste Management tells LEO a very different story. He says that they did find a cave at the site shortly after the hearing last October, and issued a notice of deficiency to LG&E in late November, which they have yet to respond to.

“We issued them a notice of deficiency on Nov. 30, 2011,” Gruzesky says. “And the specific reason for that was the cave, which was identified during the public hearing. And we found out — and didn’t even realize it at the time of the meeting — there’s a pretty specific cave law in Kentucky. So the notice of deficiency asked them to address the issues in the cave law. And they’ve talked to us about that. They haven’t formally submitted a response to that notice of deficiency.

“From our standpoint, the review has stopped, and the ball is in their court.

Gruzesky says the cave could be a serious obstacle to the LG&E permit request.

“Oh, it’s a pretty serious impediment,” Gruzesky says. “I think the big question is, is this something they can overcome? And it’s not something that we deal with on a routine basis, so I can’t point to any permitting history or any instances in our background and say, ‘Well this is what we’ve done previously.’ Because we’re on new ground here.”

Gruzesky says he expects LG&E to argue that what the Division of Waste Management found is not actually a cave by the definition of law.

Keeling and LG&E did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the notice of deficiency regarding the cave.

Below is the text of the notice of deficiency sent to LG&E last November:

The Kentucky Division of Waste Management (DWM), Solid Waste Branch has started review of your application for a Special Waste Landfill at the Trimble County Generating Station, received on May 6, 2011. DWM has found your application to be deficient in the following respect:

1. During the public meeting on October 6, 2011, DWM was informed about the presence of a cave in the proposed disposal fill area. The cave’s location was confirmed by DWM personnel during a site visit on November 15, 2011. A review of historic files produced a November 1979 hydrogeologic investigation document (available upon request) identifying the cave as Wentworth Cave. Pursuant to the Kentucky Cave Protection Act (KRS 433.871 – 433.885), it is unlawful to remove, kill, harm, or otherwise disturb any naturally occurring organism found within any cave. In accordance with 401 KAR 45:030 Sections 3 and 4, DWM is unable to issue a permit inconsistent with state law.

In order for review of your application to continue, you must modify it to eliminate the deficiency noted above and verify compliance with all sections of the Kentucky Cave Protection Act. Revisions must be accompanied by an updated certification statement and correspondence describing all changes. Include revised copies for insertion into the originally submitted document. All correspondence related to this permitting action should reference Agency Interest No. 4054 and Activity ID No. APE20110002. A response to this NOD is to be submitted to this office by May 31, 2012…

*** UPDATE ***

Chip Keeling from LG&E sent LEO the following information this afternoon:

- Upon receiving the Notice of Deficiency (NOD) from the Kentucky Department of Waste Management concerning the “cave” issue at the site of the proposed Trimble County Station landfill project, we hired an outside consultant to perform both a thorough reconnaissance of the entire ravine area and a biological assessment of any cave-like features found within the ravine.

- A total of six cave-like features were identified and investigated in more detail. Our consultant’s report states that none of the features fall within the regulation cited in the NOD. In addition, the biological assessment did not find any cave-dependant life forms that would be disturbed by our proposed landfill.

- The preliminary data has been shared with Kentucky Department of Waste Management.

We have not yet filed a formal response.

We anticipate submitting a formal response in the next several days.

…there are no actual caves and none of the features are considered “caves” as defined in the cited rules.

The cave protection rules do not have a formal mitigation program comparable to that available for wetlands. But the cave protection rules also do not include an absolute prohibition on eliminating a cave. They require permission of the land owner, which in this case is LG&E.

We have concluded that the cave protection rules do not apply to these particular features. We do not expect any impact on our plans.

12 Comments

  1. Coal Ash Toxic
    Posted February 18, 2012 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

    Mr, Keeling your response is interesting. I think any consultant you hired would say whatever you paid him to.
    Anyone independent party who examined the cave would know that it is a cave.
    Just as you claim you have not violated any nuisance laws at Cane Run? Although you have been cited repeatedly? And fined?
    Your company is insistent on placing coal ash in residential communities regardless of the EPA’s assessment that all three of your current Coal Ash ponds are “High Hazard Containments”.
    LG&E should have never built any coal burning power plants in any residential neighborhoods and you know it.
    Your proposed Trimble containment will destroy caves, beautiful forests and cause the property values of the home owners in the area to plummet.
    the question becomes when will you implement clean energy and jobs in our region instead of burying us with green house gases, toxic coal ash, and mercury. No plans to construct any solar. no wind, nothing but coal! We deserve a clean energy portfolio like many other states. Why is KY damned to continue dealing with your coal ash ponds leaking into the Ohio River and your coal ash landfills providing toxin laden dust to neighborhoods.
    The cigarette industry said for many years that cigarettes had no harmful effects on people’s health. Are you going to wait until your industry is forced to pay billions in health damages to do the right thing?

  2. Coal Ash Toxic
    Posted February 18, 2012 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

    SO Mr. Keeling, yes there are caves but you don’t call them caves. But int he event that they are caves? LG&E is proud to destroy people’s health and caves because you can.
    What a great corporate citizen?

  3. Coal Ash Toxic
    Posted February 18, 2012 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

    The CAVE which has at least one opening 12 feet high and goes back very deep, may connect to a larger cave system that is federally protected. This isn’t going away.

  4. Astounded
    Posted February 18, 2012 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

    So what’s the deal with a coal ash pile. You just haul millions of train cars of coal to a site over the years, you burn the coal, and then you just make a big pile that you’re going to leave in place? Shouldn’t the ash go somewhere safe, other than on the bank of the river upstream of our city’s water supply? Eventually, eventually, the power plant is closed, soemthing else takes its place, but this big pile of ash w/ heavy metals and toxins in it just stays behind, unowned and unmaintained?

    That’s really offensive. That’s just a really offensive and irresponsible way to do business. If you make a mess, you need to clean it up properly. Don’t they teach as much in kindergarten?

  5. Kathy Little
    Posted February 19, 2012 at 12:49 am | Permalink

    Mr. Keeling it is a cave. It’s called Wentworth cave and it feeds to larger caves. Do your dirty business somewhere else. I live near Cane Run and you run your sludge plant only at night so that when it malfunctions no one can see it. I hope to bring the residents from Mill Creek, Cane Run and Trimble together to form an organization to fight this continuous assault on the residents living adjacent to your power plants. At this time for sure, we lack regulation in Kentucky but the tide is turning Mr. Keeling. You can’t think you can continue to destroy the land, people’s health and ruin property values for too much longer. We have a voice and the voices will get louder.

  6. Coal Ash Toxic
    Posted February 21, 2012 at 12:36 am | Permalink

    Mr Keeling you are absolutely hilarious.

    Your response to residents tonight that met to discuss the toxic soup you have them living in?

    “We are meeting all regulations”

    No sir you are not! The Air Pollution Control District has fined you twice and you are not in compliance. YOU don’t pay your fines. You just stick your head in the sand and say “we are not poisoning anyone, we are meeting all regulations”. Meanwhile everyone else says you are not!

    Why can’t LG&E implement any green energy or green job opportunities. YOu just take take take and give nothing back but poison and increased rates. Rates you increase for what? More dirty coal!

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    LG&E facing permit obstacles for proposed coal ash landfill in Trimble County (UPDATE) – FatLip