Questions remain about controversial Cane Run power plant

Questions remain about controversial Cane Run power plant

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Decades of dangerous conditions, fines and millions of dollars on the line.

It's all thanks to one coal plant on Cane Run Road. Despite closing, there are still questions about what's going to happen to the ash that has been piling up since the plant opened in the 1950s.

Tuesday evening, the state's Division of Waste Management hosted a meeting at Conway Middle School to give residents a chance to ask about the plans for the plant.

[PREVIOUS STORY: Coal ash problem persists around LG&E power plant]

Richard Evans, who has lived near the plant for 46 years, said he was planning on attending the meeting.

"See that black stuff right there?" Evans asked while showing us a cloth stained in black. "That's that stuff that's in the air."

He said he's tired of the stuff on his car, his pond, even his bird feeders.

[PREVIOUS STORY: Neighbors near LG&E plant upset over fly ash]

"Black coal. Coal dust," he said.

When Evans heard the news that LG&E was switching from power from coal to power from natural gas, he was cautiously optimistic.

"That's a good step forward," he said.

According to the Louisville Metro Air Pollution Control District, LG&E has paid the city $147,000 since 2011 in fines for air pollution violations.

The EPA has come down with new regulations, forcing LG&E to invest about $3 billion to comply.

"This is an exciting time," LG&E spokesperson Liz Pratt said.

LG&E has asked the Department of Waste Management for new permits. Since their coal operations are coming to an end, they want to cover their landfill. They have also asked to fill their ash pond with clay and cover it with soil after draining it.

"This is in compliance with current environmental regulations and consistent with the EPA's recently released regulation," Pratt explained.

LG&E and Waste Management said they want to be transparent, especially for those living nearby.

The Department of Waste Management said they will inspect the process along the way.

"I do think it's going to be positive," said Tim Hubbard, an Environmental Scientist with the KY Division of Waste Management, a part of the Department of Environmental Protection. "It should reduce the level of concerns that people have as well as any concerns they have with the ash pond and the landfill operation."

As for Evans, he's still skeptical about what the future will hold and hopes the sound from the gas powered operation won't be too loud.

"We have to put up with some noise. That would be better than the sludge I guess," he said.

LG&E says they will use silencers with the new equipment. On their website, they promise the noise from the plant won't be louder than a dishwasher.

The switch from coal to gas is expected to happen in May. The coal operation at the plant will be obsolete by 2016, according to LG&E.

For additional information about the Cane Run Generating Station, click here.

BRIEF HISTORY

The Cane Run Generating Station opened in 1954 and was considered an environmental innovator when President Jimmy Carter visited in 1979.

LG&E sought to expand the coal ash landfill at the station in 2010.

In 2012 and 2013 the Air Pollution Control district fined LG&E several times due to blowing ash.

A WAVE 3 News investigation showed a screen put up to help control the ash didn't appear to get the job done.

Also in 2012, meetings began to transition the station from coal to natural gas.

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