Whitesburg KY
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Childers to pay $500,000 to settle state complaint

Childers Oil Company has agreed to pay the state $500,000 to settle a lawsuit over a diesel fuel spill that polluted the North Fork of the Kentucky River.

Whitesburg-based Childers Oil and its sister, Mountain Rail Properties, that own dozens of Double Kwik gas stations across southeast Kentucky, agreed to pay $240,000 to local governments for water plant rehabilitation and sewer line extensions.

Allison Fleck, public information officer for the state Division of Water, said the companies will also pay $159,854.23 to the state Energy and Environment Cabinet in restitution and smaller amounts to conservation and cleanup groups, including $10,000 to the annual River Sweep clean-up project, and $90,145.77 to the Kentucky Heritage Land Conservation Fund.

Childers spilled diesel fuel at Ermine in October 2008, fouling the river upstream from the intakes for the City of Whitesburg’s water treatment plant. The spill stopped service for days to 7,500 customers.

According to a release from Fleck, Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd signed the consent judgment as a final judgment between the Energy and Environment Cabinet and the Childers companies on Sept. 23.

The release said diesel fuel was spilled during an excavation near Walmart in Whitesburg and subsequently entered the river and adjoining shorelines. The activity was unpermitted and in a floodplain, the release said.

The release also said the Energy and Environment Cabinet is not involved in any criminal investigations related to the spill. Any criminal investigations would be conducted through the Attorney General’s Office at the state level and through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) at the federal level. The EPA did conduct a grand jury investigation, the release said.

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