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Western Kentucky man sentenced for 2018 KY/WV oil spill

Stock photo of an oil slick
Stock photo of an oil slick

The owner of a towboat that sank and spilled oil into a river along the West Virginia-Kentucky border has been sentenced.

David Smith was sentenced to 18 months probation on a federal pollution charge. The Paducah man and his two companies also were ordered Monday in federal court in West Virginia to pay nearly $1.9 million in restitution.

Smith’s companies also were fined $100,000 each. Smith's towboat sank while docked in the Big Sandy River in January 2018, discharging oil and other substances.

An administrative order required Smith to remove all oil and hazardous materials from the Gate City before January 31, 2018, but Smith admitted he had not complied at the time of the spill, prosecutors said.

Smith also said a contractor that was supposed to remove oil from the vessel before it sank could not access it safely due to site conditions.

The city of Kenova, West Virginia, closed its municipal drinking water intake for three days.

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Stan Ingold is WEKU's News Director. He has worked in public broadcasting for 18 years, starting at Morehead State Public Radio before spending the past 10 years at Alabama Public Radio. Stan has been honored with numerous journalism awards for his public radio reporting.
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