Mercer's air quality still on feds' list

December 19, 2004|ANN R. HARNEY

HARRODSBURG - The federal Environmental Protection Agency has listed Mercer County as one of two Kentucky counties that are in partial non-attainment with the federal standards on airborne matter such as soot and dust. Seven others are in full non-attainment.

State officials visited Mercer County in July with the same news, and the latest information is the same: the air quality in Mercer County is good as far as fine particulate matter is concerned. The label of "out of compliance" refers to emissions from Kentucky Utilities' E.W. Brown Electricity Generating Plant on Herrington Lake, a determination made by the federal EPA.

John Lyons, director of Division for Air Quality for the state EPA, said the federal agency believes the plant is one cause of non-compliance readings on a monitor in downtown Lexington. Lyons does not accept that premise.

The air quality in Mercer County is good, he said.

"I'd bet my last dollar on it," Lyons said in July, and he has not changed the opinion.


There are no monitors in Mercer County.

The readings of the monitors were done in the years 2001, 2002 and 2003. In January 2005, the readings from 2004 will be added and the readings from 2001 will be dropped, and the figures will be recalculated, Lyons said. That information won't be available before April.

"If we re-compute, we hope Mercer and Fayette will end up being in compliance,'' Lyons said in a telephone interview Friday.

Only the KU plant is listed as not in compliance in Mercer County. However, Fayette County is one of seven counties listed by the federal EPA as being in full non-attainment, Lyons said. He does not think the KU plant is the cause of the monitor readings in Lexington.

Lawrence County is the other Kentucky county in partial non-attainment; Bullitt, Jefferson, Boone, Kenton, Campbell and Boyd counties are the other counties in complete non-attainment.

Having been made aware of the EPA designation, Lyons said there is nothing the state or local governments can do at this point.

"Until EPA issues information about what they expect from the counties, we don't do anything to go through the process of bringing the counties back into attainment," Lyons said.

"We don't expect documentation guidance until mid-2005,'' he said. "Then we have three years to submit our plan - that is until April 2008 - to the EPA on each county."

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