Politics & Government

State reaches $168,000 settlement over radioactive waste dumped in Kentucky

The state has reached a $168,000 settlement with one of the companies involved in the disposal of radioactive waste at the Blue Ridge Landfill in Estill County.
The state has reached a $168,000 settlement with one of the companies involved in the disposal of radioactive waste at the Blue Ridge Landfill in Estill County. gkocher1@herald-leader.com

The state has reached a $168,000 settlement with one of the companies accused of arranging for the dumping of radioactive waste in an Estill County landfill.

The Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services reached a settlement with Fairmont Brine Processing LLC, the agency announced Friday. Fairmont Brine had appealed a civil penalty order of more than $1 million issued by the cabinet in November.

The state had alleged that Fairmont Brine arranged for the disposal of radioactive material from West Virginia at the Estill County landfill. Fairmont Brine of Pittsburgh, which operates a wastewater treatment facility in West Virginia, contracted with a West Liberty company called Advanced TENORM Services LLC for the pick-up, transportation, treatment and disposal of its waste. Some of that waste ended up at the Blue Ridge Landfill.

Fairmont Brine denies all liability but agreed to pay a civil penalty totaling $168,000 over a 30-month period. This is one of several civil penalty orders filed against various companies related to the disposal of out-of-state radioactive material in Kentucky.

“All settlement proceeds will be directed to the Estill County Public Health Department,” Cabinet Secretary Vickie Yates Brown Glisson said in a release. “The funds will be used for radiation-related public health issues in Estill County, particularly radon education and detection.”

Fairmont Brine maintains that it did not intend to violate Kentucky law. When Fairmont Brine contracted with Advanced TENORM Services to dispose of its waste, Fairmont Brine relied upon the West Liberty company’s claims that the waste would be safely and legally deposited in Kentucky. Also, although it did not have jurisdiction over Kentucky disposal, a West Virginia regulatory authority approved Fairmont Brine’s arrangement with the West Liberty company, the Cabinet said.

The Cabinet said Fairmont Brine has been cooperative with the Kentucky authorities. Before the Cabinet issued any civil penalties, Fairmont Brine contacted the state to inquire about the West Liberty company’s allegedly improper disposal. Fairmont Brine also helped the Cabinet establish the timeline of events leading up to the West Liberty company’s disposal at the Estill landfill.

Monitoring and testing of areas at the Blue Ridge Landfill have shown no evidence that the disposal caused radiation or radioactive contamination above federal and state safety limits, the state says. In addition, preliminary dose assessments on landfill workers indicate that the workers are not at risk for any negative health outcomes.

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