Posted by: Lawyer Sanders | November 11, 2008

Lawyer Sanders says Kentucky Division of Water has identified and charged culprit in shutting down Whitesburg drinking water plant with oily waste sludge.

The Kentucky Division of Water cited Mr. Don Childers, the owner of Childers Oil Inc. in Whitesburg, Kentucky after state investigators found oil seeping from a plastic-lined pit on his property into the North Fork of the Kentucky River, about a mile from the Whitesburg water plant’s intake.  According to the state regulatory agency, the company put down a sheet of plastic at a construction site located off of U.S. 119 South, and then dumped an oily waste sludge on top of the plastic sheet.  To little surprise, the oil quickly ate through the plastic sheet and the oily sludge migrated into the Kentucky River.


The state charged Mr. Childers with multiple violations of the Clean Water Act, including degradation of the river, failure to obtain a pollutant discharge permit, unauthorized release of a petroleum product into waters, disposal of waste at an unpermitted facility, failure to notify officials of a petroleum release and endangering the public welfare.  State officials will set up a meeting with Mr. Childers to find out why the contamination occurred.


Officials discovered the mess after residents called on November 1 to complain that their drinking water smelled like gasoline.  State and local officials quickly shut down and then cleaned the Whitesburg water plant, which serves about 2,000 residents throughout Letcher County.


At the site of the oily discharge, state inspectors dug a trench to keep the oily waste from flowing into the river and removed soil contaminated with the waste.  Because of the oil, the state issued a drinking water advisory warning residents not to consume the water or use it for anything other than flushing toilets.  The state lifted the ban on November 6.


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