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Suit Filed Over Paradise Coal-fired Plant in Kentucky

Published by MAC on 2006-08-02

Suit Filed Over Paradise Coal-fired Plant in Kentucky

Statement by Center for Biological Diversity, WASHINGTON, DC

2nd August 2006

The Center for Biological Diversity and residents of Kentucky filed suit this week against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia over the agency's failure to address dangerous deficiencies in the Tennessee Valley Authority's Paradise coal-fired power plant operating permit.

The Tennessee Valley Authority's Paradise power plant ("TVA Paradise") is located on the Green River in Muhlenberg County, western Kentucky, where the town of Paradise once stood. In 1967, the Tennessee Valley Authority tore down Paradise, later memorialized in John Prine's folk song by the same name, to make room for the power plant.

TVA Paradise is now one of the largest sources of air pollution in the nation. It burns more than 7 million tons of coal and emits thousands of tons of air pollutants each year that the EPA has identified as hazardous to human health and the environment. These pollutants cause a variety of health problems such as asthma, bronchitis, heart attacks, birth defects and decreased intelligence, and also contribute to climate change.

The federal Clean Air Act regulates the emission of many of these substances from power plants by requiring these facilities to have a valid operating permit. While the Division for Air Quality of the Kentucky Environmental and Public Protection Cabinet has issued an operating permit to TVA Paradise, the lawsuit alleges that this permit is deficient in many respects, including failing to require TVA Paradise to operate modern pollution control equipment year-round. The EPA, in turn, has violated the Clean Air Act by failing to modify or revoke the permit in light of these flaws.

"The EPA now clearly acknowledges that pollution from coal-fired power plants can foul our air and cause a variety of serious illnesses," said Julie Teel, staff attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity. "The fact that the EPA is still not taking corrective action with regard to TVA Paradise's air pollution permit, which is years overdue, indicates something is wrong with the moral compass EPA is using to set its priorities."

TVA Paradise also threatens Western Kentucky's ecosystems, which include the most intricate cave and underground stream system in the world. Dr. Hilary Lambert, a resident of Lexington, Kentucky, explained that Mammoth Cave National Park, a World Heritage Site located downwind of the Paradise plant, receives the brunt of the airborne pollution: "The pollution gets trapped in the folds and hollows of the park's wooded landscape, helping to give Mammoth Cave National Park the dubious distinction of having the third worst air quality of any national park in the country." In Dr. Lambert's view, "It is well past the time for someone to rein in the decades of arrogant behavior shown by the operators and owners of the Paradise coal-fired power plant, which daily darkens the skies of western Kentucky with its fallout."

Preston Forsythe, who lives near TVA Paradise, expressed similar disappointment that the EPA has ignored their pleas to bring the TVA Paradise permit in compliance with the law, but said, "I can see TVA Paradise and its dark plume of pollutants from my home. I can no longer sit by while an agency that was created to protect us from precisely this kind of harm allows TVA Paradise to illegally pollute the air, ground and water where my family lives."

Contact Info:

Julie Teel
Center for Biological Diversity
Tel : (619) 224-3400
E-mail :

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