Call to Order and Roll Call
The4th meeting of the Special Subcommittee on Energy was held on Monday, October 29, 2012, at 10:00 AM, at the Center for Applied Energy Research, Lexington, Kentucky. Representative Keith Hall, Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Members:Senator Brandon Smith, Co-Chair; Representative Keith Hall, Co-Chair; Senators Joe Bowen, Ernie Harris, Ray S. Jones II, Bob Leeper, Johnny Ray Turner, and Robin L. Webb; Representatives Royce W. Adams, Rocky Adkins, Dwight D. Butler, Leslie Combs, Tim Couch, Jim Gooch Jr., Sannie Overly, Tanya Pullin, Tom Riner, Kevin Sinnette, John Will Stacy, Fitz Steele, and Brent Yonts.
Guests: Dr. Eli Capilouto, President of the University of Kentucky; Anthony Hatton, Director, Division of Waste Management; G.C. Kincer, Mayor of Jenkins, Kentucky; D. Charles Dixon, former Mayor of Jenkins, Kentucky; Mr. Anthony Hatton, Director, Division of Waste Management, Department for Environmental Protection, Energy and Environment Cabinet and Rodney Andrews, Executive Director, Center for Applied Energy Research.
The September 21, 2012 minutes were approved without objection, by voice vote, upon motion made by Representative Steele and second by Representative Yonts.
Contaminated site in Jenkins, Kentucky
Mr. D. Charles Dixon, former Mayor of Jenkins, Kentucky, testified about environmental concerns that face the city of Jenkins and the towns located downstream from Elkhorn Creek, including Levisa Fork and the Big Sandy River. He explained that he and his deceased wife, during their childhoods and married lives, lived near maintenance shop buildings formerly owned by Consolidation Coal Co., No. 204 Mine and then sold to Beth-Elkhorn Coal Corporation. Refuse from the coal companies was dumped near what was called the Beth-Elkhorn Division Shops which lies next to the Elkhorn Creek. Over the years, the electrical transformers were drained and sprayed on the streets to abate dust, and former employees said they used the oil to wash their soiled hands. It was generally known that the oil drained from the electrical transformers contained PCBs, which are carcinogenic. Several former employees who worked at the shop area died of cancer. His wife, Lanna, developed a rare degenerative disease called Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP). She participated in a PCP research study at the University of Louisville until her death on April 10, 2012. Although the results have not been released yet, her doctor was concerned that PSP was a result of an environmental problem.
Mr. Dixon noted that the shop area is owned by Gary Royalty who leases the property to a trucking company. He asked that the appropriate state agency take necessary steps to address the hazardous environmental pollution that is still in the ground surrounding the shop area and other parts of Jenkins.
Mr. G. C. Kincer, Mayor of Jenkins, agreed that the shop area was an eyesore, but that Jenkins needed verification from the Environmental Protection Agency that the area surrounding the shop and the city was toxic before proceeding with legal action.
In response to questions from Senator Jones and Senator Harris, Mr. Kincer stated that, if drainage from the site was found to be contaminating surface water, it would affect people downstream to Elkhorn City.
Mr. Anthony Hatton, Director, Division of Waste Management, Department for Environmental Protection, Energy and Environment Cabinet, stated that the department responds to complaints and information received. From 1989 through 2012, the department has responded to complaints regarding 10 transformers that were lying on top of the ground at the Jenkins site. Inspectors found containers with no labels and some transformers. At that time, soil samples were taken and no PCP was found. The present owner, Mr. Royalty, pulled more soil samples in August, but was notified that he needed to drill deeper. Inspectors recently found that the barrels of liquid had been removed.
Senator Smith noted that HB 465 provides liability relief to someone who did not cause the problem.
In response to Representative Hallís questions, Mr. Hatton said that brownfield grants can be used for cleanup. Also, the results of the new soil sampling tests should be available in February, 2013. He said that he would forward that information to the chairs of the Natural Resources, Special Subcommittee on Energy, Tourism Development, and Energy committees, and to the Mayor of Jenkins and Mr. Dixon.
Introduction and tour of new laboratory building, Center for Applied Energy Research
Mr. Rodney Andrews, Executive Director, Center for Applied Energy Research (CAER), discussed the operational mission of CAER and upon conclusion he conducted a tour of the new laboratory building. The mission of CAER is to execute a research program designed to develop new and more effective and environmentally acceptable uses for coal and to improve existing uses for Kentuckyís fossil fuels and other natural resources. The United States needs more mining engineers, instead of technical engineers. Top-notch researchers, who were educated in the U.S., take jobs in China and India. As an example, he said that China is investing in coal to liquids plants and are in the process of building new plants.
In response to questions from Senator Smith and Senator Bowen, Mr. Andrews stated that CAER is not a college within the University of Kentucky. It is a research center that works closely with all the colleges that are a part of the University such as mining, chemistry and agriculture.
There being no further business, the meeting adjourned.