E.W. Brown Generating Station has 31 groundwater monitoring wells, 22 of which have been polluted above federal advisory levels based on samples collected between January 31, 2011 and August 29, 2017. Groundwater at this site contains unsafe levels of sulfate, arsenic, boron, lithium, molybdenum, manganese, selenium, cobalt, cadmium, lead, nickel, antimony and thallium.Site description
Kentucky Utilities Company's E.W. Brown Generating Station is located in Mercer County, Kentucky. The plant sits on the Dix River near Herrington Lake, which was built by the utility company in the 1920s. The plant started operating in the 1950s. It has two ash ponds-- the main pond and the auxiliary pond. As of 2015, the main pond contained about 6 million cubic yards of coal ash covering about 114 acres. The auxiliary pond, constructed in the 2000s, has received all of the ash from the plant since 2008 and is expected to be full by 2019. As of 2015, the plant was constructing a new ash landfill on top of the main pond.
According to the plant's Groundwater Remedial Action plan, groundwater monitoring began at the site in 2011, after the plant started seeking approval to construct the new landfill on top of the main pond. That initial monitoring revealed contamination of springs and drains near the main pond and around the property. Groundwater at the site flows through cracks and channels in bedrock. Because of this, groundwater monitoring at the site is mostly performed at springs, where groundwater exits the bedrock, rather than at monitoring wells.
Fish in Herrington Lake have been found with elevated levels of selenium from the plant's coal ash. Selenium is particularly toxic to fish, and it is very difficult to remove it from aquatic ecosystems.