Division of Water
Notice of violation issued in Whitesburg water contamination incident
The Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection (DEP) has issued a notice of violation (NOV) to Don Childers of Whitesburg in relation to the leakage of waste oil from his property into the North Fork of the Kentucky River in Letcher County.
Childers was issued the NOV on Nov. 7 for degradation of surface water, failure to obtain a pollutant discharge permit, unauthorized release of a petroleum product into waters of the commonwealth, disposal of waste at an unpermitted facility, failure to notify of a petroleum release into the environment and endangering the public welfare.
Violations are subject to a civil penalty of up to $25,000 per day per violation.
The disposal site is undergoing remediation. A consumer advisory issued Nov. 1 in Letcher County restricting water use to sanitary flushing was lifted Nov. 6.
On Nov. 1, a petroleum-like odor was detected at the Whitesburg water plant. Subsequent investigation revealed a possible source of the contaminant one mile upstream of the Whitesburg Water Works raw water intake on property owned by Childers Oil Co, Inc, in Whitesburg. The oil was found to be seeping from a plastic-lined pit located on the river bank.
City and county officials, the Kentucky and Letcher County environmental response teams, the Division of Water, the Division of Waste Management and the Division of Public Health Protection and Safety participated in the response effort. Treatment and distribution of drinking water was halted and a consumer advisory issued warning of possible dangers linked to consumption of the water. A trench was dug to intercept the oil flow into the river and activities to remove contaminated soil were initiated. Bottled water was made available to the public.
“State and local agencies acted quickly to respond to this emergency and identify the source of the contamination,” said DOW Director Sandy Gruzesky. “We will continue to work with the public water producers to ensure water quality meets state and federal standards.”