After a January announcement from the Energy and Environment Cabinet (EEC) saying it had given preliminary approval to leaving radioactive waste at an Estill County landfill, the Concerned Citizens of Estill County announced Monday it preferred a different solution.

The group said it wants the illegally dumped waste removed from the Blue Ridge Landfill in Irvine. The group’s position was submitted as comments to the EEC and disagrees with the preferred solution to leave the waste in place by upgrading and increasing the coverage over the material.

“I wish the TENORM had never been placed in the Blue Ridge landfill,” said Tom Bonny, former school superintendent and founding member of the CCEC. “However, since it is there and was placed there illegally, I feel that the citizens of Estill County should have a voice in how the situation should be resolved. The majority who have spoken indicate that they will not have full peace of mind if the TENORM is left in place. Therefore, I support the community’s desire for removal.”

The illegal dumping took place between June 2015 and January 2016 with more than 1,100 tons of radioactive waste from hydraulic fracking operations in West Virginia and Ohio being dumped in the landfill.

Kentucky regulators, who had denied Advanced TENORM Services LLC permission to deposit the waste in their state, were alerted by West Virginia officials when they suspected the waste was being taken to Kentucky.

In a January release, the cabinet, in preliminarily accepting Blue Ridge’s preferred option, determined that leaving the TENORM in place is protective of human health and the environment because it limits potential public exposure to the waste and other adverse impacts associated with excavating at the site.

John Mura, director of communications for the Energy and Environment Cabinet, told The Register Monday that, while the Cabinet has given preliminary approval to Advanced Disposal Services Blue Ridge Landfill Inc.’s (Blue Ridge) Corrective Action Plan (CAP), it will now consider each of the comments submitted in writing before deciding how to proceed.

Blue Ridge previously agreed to a $95,000 civil penalty that the EEC agreed to offset by allowing the company to perform supplemental environmental projects. Specifically, Blue Ridge agreed to deposit $60,000 into an escrow account for the Estill County School District to pay towards the detection and mitigation of naturally occurring radon. 

In addition to the civil penalty, Blue Ridge previously agreed to stipulated penalties in the amount of $25,000 for future acceptance of unpermitted TENORM waste.   

The landfill is across the street from Estill County High School and Middle School. 

Jonathan Greene is the editor of The Register; follow him on Twitter @jgreeneRR.

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