Radiation to be monitored at landfill where waste was illegally dumped

Blue Ridge Landfill in Estill County.
Blue Ridge Landfill in Estill County.

Radiation monitors will be installed at an Estill County landfill as part of a signed agreed order, the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet said Tuesday.

The cabinet said the agreed order with Advanced Disposal Services Blue Ridge Landfill Inc. has remedial and penalty provisions on radioactive material that was illegally brought to Estill County in 2015.

The agreed order requires Blue Ridge to develop a “corrective action plan” that must address the disposal of “technologically enhanced naturally occurring radioactive material” brought to the landfill near Irvine. The action plan also must contain a timetable for the completion of specific actions and an estimated date for final compliance.

The landfill also must have a plan for detecting and preventing future disposal of unpermitted waste.

Blue Ridge also agreed to a $95,000 civil penalty that the Cabinet has agreed to offset by allowing the company to perform supplemental environmental projects.

Specifically, Blue Ridge has agreed to deposit $60,000 into an escrow account for the Estill County School District to pay toward detection and mitigation of naturally occurring radon, and-or establishing educational programs related to environmental sciences.

As part of the agreed order, the landfill company will install radiation monitors at the Estill County landfill and at its affiliated Morehead landfill, which did not receive any unpermitted waste. Radiation monitoring at the landfill will be incorporated into the company’s plan to prevent future disposal of such waste and will be a requirement of the Blue Ridge Landfill solid-waste permit.

The agreed order requires that the escrow account be established and any monitoring devices be installed within 120 days of the signing of the agreed order.

In addition to the civil penalty, Blue Ridge has agreed to a stipulated $2,500 penalty if it fails to meet deadlines associated with submitting the corrective action plan. Blue Ridge also has agreed to stipulated penalties of $25,000 for future acceptance of unpermitted waste.

“We believe that this agreed order — and the corrective action plan that is to follow — will protect the citizens of Estill County and the local environment now and in the future,” Secretary Charles Snavely said in a news release. “We appreciate the stakeholders who participated with us in bringing this process to this point.”

State officials say that 92 shipments containing more than 1,900 tons of waste originating in Ohio and West Virginia were illegally dumped in Kentucky. The Estill County landfill is across the road from the high school and the middle school.

State officials have said that the estimated exposure to landfill workers and to students and teachers at the high school and the middle school is low, and that there is no evidence to suggest any measurable impact of the waste.

The agreed order doesn’t resolve any violations of state law or any allegations that might arise from any investigation by the Cabinet for Health and Family Services into the generators, transporters and brokers who arranged for the importation of the waste into Kentucky.

In November, the state Cabinet for Health and Family Services announced that it will seek $8.5 million from various companies responsible for dumping the waste. Other companies might be added to the list if evidence is found connecting them to the dumping.

A lawsuit that Estill County Fiscal Court has brought against the landfill and others is pending in circuit court. The lawsuit alleges that the county’s host agreement and solid-waste ordinance were knowingly and willingly violated by bringing in out-of-state radioactive waste.