Estill Circuit Judge Michael Dean denied a motion Thursday to dismiss three defendants from a lawsuit brought by Estill County Fiscal Court over disposal of radioactive waste into a landfill.
Advanced Tenorm Services, BES LLC and Cory Hoskins had all sought to be dismissed from the lawsuit filed by the county earlier this year. BES does business as Advanced Tenorm Services, and Hoskins was listed as the owner of BES, according to the state Cabinet for Health and Family Services. The cabinet had said Advanced Tenorm Services imported, collected and transported out-of-state radioactive waste and brought it into Kentucky.
The county had sued BES, Advanced Tenorm and Hoskins, as well as Advanced Disposal Services, Blue Ridge Landfill, and Waste Management of Kentucky for violating the county’s host agreement by receiving out-of-state radioactive waste.
Christie Moore, the attorney representing Advanced Tenorm Services, BES LLC and Hoskins, said the complaint should be dismissed against her clients because they weren’t parties to the county’s host agreement and therefore couldn’t be held liable for breaching the agreement.
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Moore also said the solid-waste ordinance cited in the complaint didn’t apply to the actions of her clients.
The ordinance applies only to the storage, collection, transportation and disposal of solid waste in Estill County, Moore said. But she said there was no allegation in the complaint that Advanced Tenorm Services, BES LLC or Hoskins stored, collected, transported or disposed of waste or operated a solid-waste facility in Estill County.
But the judge said he couldn’t dismiss BES, Advanced Tenorm and Hoskins without more discovery, and he denied Moore’s motion. Several people in the courtroom gallery applauded after the judge announced his decision.
Among those pleased was Tom Bonny, treasurer of Concerned Citizens of Estill County.
“We feel ... all the facts need to be brought out,” Bonny said. “There has been a wrong done, and whoever’s responsible needs to be held accountable.”
Nearly 2,000 tons of low-level radioactive waste generated by drilling operations in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia were dumped in the Estill landfill. The waste was the byproduct from fracking, a drilling technique that has been used to extract natural gas from underground in the Northeast.
Kentucky regulators were notified in July 2015 that West Virginia had approved a plan for radioactive waste to be dumped in Estill County, but officials there didn’t learn about the dumping until February. That month, Kentucky regulators put landfills on notice that radioactive shipments could be headed their way.
State Attorney General Andy Beshear said earlier this year that no criminal charges will be filed in regard to the dumping, but the state Cabinet for Health and Family Services said it will seek civil penalties against several companies for the illicit dumping.
Meanwhile, the state Energy and Environment Cabinet is in settlement discussions with Advanced Disposal, the company that operates the Blue Ridge Landfill in Estill County, relating to a notice of violation in March.
The Concerned Citizens of Estill County group has pushed for a seat at the table before any tentative settlement agreement is reached. Bonny said members of the group met Wednesday in Frankfort with Charles Snavely, secretary of the Energy and Environment Cabinet.
“We had a really nice discussion,” Bonny said. “I think it’s yet to be determined just how much role we’ll play in that decision, but they did promise us that we would see the unsigned draft before it’s signed, and that we would have opportunity to comment and that changes could be made before it was signed. So that was very positive.”