State

Companies that dumped radioactive waste in Estill and Greenup counties file for bankruptcy

Blue Ridge Landfill in Estill County was one site where out-of-state radioactive waste was illegally dumped.
Blue Ridge Landfill in Estill County was one site where out-of-state radioactive waste was illegally dumped. gkocher1@herald-leader.com

A business owner and his two firms fined by the state for illegal dumping of radioactive waste have all filed for bankruptcy in federal court.

Advanced TENORM Services LLC, BES LLC and Cory David Hoskins, all of West Liberty, filed separate voluntary petitions for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, according to records in federal court. Hoskins owns BES LLC, which does business as Advanced TENORM Services.

Each filing lists assets of as much as $50,000 and estimated liabilities of between $1 million and $10 million. Under a Chapter 7 reorganization, a court-appointed trustee sells a debtor’s assets and the debtor is discharged of debts.

Advanced TENORM Services and Hoskins were fined in November by the state Department for Public Health for dumping of out-of-state radioactive waste in landfills in Estill and Greenup counties. The penalties were sought against processors, transporters and brokers responsible for transferring those materials into Kentucky landfills.

Evidence shows that the activity began as early as May 2015 and involved the illegal transport and disposal of “technologically enhanced naturally occurring radioactive material” or “TENORM,” a byproduct of pressurized oil drilling or fracking.

The state sought penalties against Advanced TENORM Services of $2.65 million and against Hoskins of $2.65 million, for a total of $5.3 million. More than $8 million in penalties were sought against eight companies.

Jennifer Wolsing, an attorney for the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, said at a public meeting in November at Estill County High School that some business owners said the penalties could potentially bankrupt them.

Wolsing said at the time, “Our goal is not to bankrupt these corporations.” Rather, she said, the goal is to send a message “that this behavior will not be tolerated.”

In addition, Wolsing expressed hope that some money recovered in penalties might go to Estill and Greenup counties.

Others aren’t so sure. Among them is a group called The Concerned Citizens of Estill County, which has brought suit against the Kentucky attorney general, the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, and the Energy and Environment Cabinet seeking public records related to the illegal dumping. The attorney general’s office brought no criminal charges in connection with the illegal dumping.

“With the filing of bankruptcy, and what many consider a mistake by the attorney general not to bring criminal charges, … it appears they will walk away from this, leaving Estill County holding the bag,” Craig Williams, a member of the Concerned Citizens group, said Monday.

Louisville attorney James R. Irving of Louisville says in a “disclosure of compensation” included in the bankruptcy filings that Hoskins paid him $15,000 for legal services rendered in the bankruptcy cases. In addition, Irving’s law firm, Bingham Greenebaum Doll LLP of Louisville, also represented the debtors in “regulatory proceedings and litigation concerning liability for environmental issues,” for which the firm received $57,866.48.

The law firm has an outstanding bill of $35,327.56 “for these matters,” the disclosure says.

Irving has asked a judge for more time, until April 10, to file initial bankruptcy documents.

Meanwhile, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Tracy N. Wise has ordered Hoskins to turn over all bank books, bank statements and canceled checks for six months preceding the bankruptcy filing, income tax returns, title papers, loan disclosure statements and other documents to trustee James D. Lyon.

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