Group tries to force state to release pollution records for Kentucky lake

Herrington Lake. Photo by Adam Wolffbrandt
Herrington Lake. Photo by Adam Wolffbrandt Adam Wolffbrandt

A group filed suit Thursday to compel the state to release public records concerning the discharge of pollutants into a Central Kentucky lake that’s a source of drinking water for thousands.

Earthjustice, a public interest law organization, says the state Energy and Environment Cabinet has refused to release more than 180 requested records about toxic coal ash waste entering Herrington Lake. The records sought were from 2015 to the present.

The lake is a popular destination for residents and tourists and is the source of drinking water for thousands of people in Boyle, Mercer and Garrard counties. It’s also a favorite place for fishing, boating and swimming.

Earthjustice says the waste, a byproduct of burning coal, seeps into the lake from Kentucky Utilities’ E.W. Brown Generating Station, a plant near Burgin in Mercer County. The plant site also generates electricity through solar and natural gas.

John Mura, the spokesman for the Energy and Environment Cabinet, had no comment because officials had not seen the complaint filed in Franklin Circuit Court.

In its response to records requests, the cabinet said state law allows the denial of records that involve preliminary drafts, preliminary recommendations or the disclosure of other documents that are prohibited or restricted, according to the Earthjustice complaint.

Earthjustice filed a federal lawsuit in 2017 that sought to stop the discharge of pollutants into the lake, but U.S. District Judge Danny Reeves dismissed it. An appeal in that suit is pending, said Earthjustice attorney Benjamin Locke.