FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 21, 2009
Hoosier Environmental Council
Clean Air Task Force
Groups Applaud Jury Verdict on Clean Air Act Violations at Gallagher Plant
Ruling benefits residents in Louisville metro area and downwind
INDIANAPOLIS—A jury in the federal district court in Indianapolis yesterday found for a coalition of plaintiffs, including the U.S. EPA, plaintiff citizens’ public health and environmental groups Hoosier Environmental Council and Ohio Environmental Council, as well as a coalition of states, on two counts that the Cinergy Corporation broke the law when it made major unpermitted changes to its Gallagher plant in southern Indiana.
The lawsuit targeted major changes the company made to two units at the Gallagher plant, which is located in Floyd County, Indiana, and is approximately five miles from the Kentucky border and the city of Louisville. The changes are estimated to have significantly increased the plant’s air emissions of sulfur dioxide, a pollutant that causes acid rain, as well as the small particles that harm human health. Gallagher dates from the late 1950s and is mostly uncontrolled for its air pollution – the plant is understood to be among the dirtiest plants in the United States in terms of air pollution per unit of energy produced. The air pollution from this plant affects not only Louisville and surrounding areas, but reaches downwind states all the way to New England.
The 25,000 additional tons of pollution per year that Gallagher has emitted since completing the unlawful projects are associated with significant health impacts, including approximately 1,000 thousand asthma attacks, 100 heart attacks, and 100 additional emergency room visits or hospitalizations per year.
In response to the verdict, Tim Maloney, senior policy director for the Hoosier Environmental Council, one of the groups representing local communities in the lawsuit, said, “on behalf of all those who live and breathe in Indiana, we are very pleased with the jury’s decision, and hopeful that this will mean significantly cleaner air for the region. We have much to do in terms of mitigating pollution in Indiana, but this is a very key step in the right direction.”
“We are very pleased that the jury has agreed that Cinergy broke the law when it failed to seek a permit and install air pollution controls at units 1 and 3 at Gallagher,” said Ann Weeks, senior counsel for Clean Air Task Force, a non-profit law and policy organization which represented Ohio Environmental Council and the Indiana-based Hoosier Environmental Council. “There will now be an additional round of legal proceedings to determine what the Company must do to make up for the fact that Gallagher has spewed 25,000 tons of pollution per year into the air that it should not have, since the projects were undertaken, causing significant health and environmental impacts in the region and downwind of this plant.”