FRANKFORT - Calling it a landmark court decision, environmentalists say a judge’s ruling in Frankfort that will remove one source of pollution from the Ohio River shows a much bigger “victory for clean water and public health.”
At the heart of the legal battle is a permit that had allowed Louisville Gas and Electric (LG&E) to put scrubber wastewater from its coal-fired power plant in Trimble County into the Ohio River.
Wallace McMullen, the energy chair of the Sierra Club’s Cumberland Chapter, said that allowed mercury, arsenic and other pollutants to be dumped into the river.
“We thought it was fairly appalling the Division of Water gave them a permit to run this effluent right into the river with essentially no treatment,” he explained.
Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd this week sided with the Sierra Club, Kentucky Waterways Alliance and other conservation groups when he sent the permit back to the Kentucky Division of Water, the agency that granted the utility the Clean Water Act permit in 2010.
“As far as I know,” Mullen said, (this is) “absolutely the first time in Kentucky that the Division of Water has issued a crappy permit and a judge has said, ‘No, this is absolutely no good, it’s remanded, go back and do it over’.”“
The decision comes as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency prepares a final standard protecting waterways against pollution from coal plants.
According to the EPA, coal plants are the number one source of toxic water pollution in the United States.