Residents near former LG&E coal plant seeking class action lawsuit

Judge hears arguments regarding class action lawsuit pending against LG&E

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - A lawsuit against LG&E hit court Wednesday, seeking class action certification.

Four residents that live near the Cane Run power plant filed the suit, seeking monetary damages after coal ash plagued their neighborhood for years.

The Cane Run site operated as a coal-fired power plant until June 2015, when LG&E converted it to natural gas.

Coal ash is the by-product of burning coal and contains carcinogens like arsenic, lead, chromium, silica, and other hazardous substances.

From around 2008 to 2015, clouds of coal ash would blow from the plant and into homes up to three miles away, according to the lawsuit.

The ponds of coal ash and landfills around the Cane Run plant have been filled and covered, LG&E said.
The ponds of coal ash and landfills around the Cane Run plant have been filled and covered, LG&E said. (WAVE 3 News Archives)

One of the residents that has filed the suit is Kathy Little, who has lived across from the plant for 39 years.

Little said she never really noticed the problem until around 2008. She said at that time, the plant changed the amount of coal ash they would allow to be dumped in the landfill.

That’s when she started noticing it in the air. Little said that’s when her uphill battle began.

“The more I tried to get it taken care of, the more resistance I came upon,” Little said.

So, Little began to take legal action in 2013, along with neighbors.

This most recent suit cites eight violations issued by Metro Government between 2011 and 2014.

LG&E tried various methods to control the coal ash, eventually filling in the coal ponds and covering the landfill.

LG&E said all landfills and ponds have been capped, closed, and covered. They are inspected monthly, by LG&E and the city.

Little said it’s still not over and she still sees coal ash.

Kathy Little cried as she talked about her granddaughter, Brianna, who grew up around the coal ash.
Kathy Little cried as she talked about her granddaughter, Brianna, who grew up around the coal ash. (WAVE 3 News)

“It’s just not going to go away,” a tearful Little said.

She fears for her 15-year-old granddaughter, Brianna, who has lived with her since she was a baby and has grown up living with the toxic particles.

“It circulates through your system and then you see your filters are black,” Little said, adding that she can’t help but feel responsible for exposing the young girl.

She said Brianna has symptoms like nose bleeds, migraines, and neurological issues that correlate with coal ash exposure. Brianna is part of a study the University of Louisville is conducting on children that have grown up exposed to coal ash.

Little said she hasn't seen anything done for her community and that's why she is still trying to bring the issue to court.

The judge has asked for all documents to be submitted by Jan. 18, then a ruling will be made to determine whether this is a class action lawsuit or not. If it is certified, 9,800 homes will be included in the suit.

LG&E released this statement:

“We were pleased to present our arguments to the Judge in today’s hearing. We believe this is a case that involved a small handful of neighbors, who are upset about past operations at the plant and that there is no basis in the law to certify this as a class action.”

The residents' attorney Tad Thomas released this statement:

"It is clear that coal ash causes adverse health effects and that Kentucky law provides residents around the Cane Run plant a remedy to have this toxic substance cleaned from their homes. We appreciate the judge allowing thorough argument on the issues today and hope that the ruling comes down in favor of our clients.”

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