State

Illegal radioactive waste will remain at landfill under state proposal

The state has given preliminary approval to a corrective action plan on radioactive waste taken illegally to the Blue Ridge Landfill in Estill County.
The state has given preliminary approval to a corrective action plan on radioactive waste taken illegally to the Blue Ridge Landfill in Estill County. gkocher1@herald-leader.com

Radioactive waste illegally taken to an Estill County landfill in 2015 will remain in place under a plan announced Thursday by the state.

Leaving the material in place at Blue Ridge Landfill rather than excavating it and disposing of it elsewhere “limits potential public exposure to the waste,” the state Energy and Environment Cabinet said of its preliminary approval.

Mary Cromer of Concerned Citizens of Estill County said that group has not taken a position on the plan.

“We knew this was coming,” Cromer said. “We have been looking at the remediation plan as it has been going back and forth between the Cabinet and the landfill.

“We have some questions and concerns, and we at this point don’t have a position on it. We’re going to ask the Cabinet if they will have a public forum in Estill County to let the community know what’s in the plan and to explain to the community why they believe ... leaving the radioactive waste in place is the best solution.”

The state will accept written comments on the proposal until Feb. 11.

The landfill owners will begin groundwater monitoring while it awaits a final decision from the state.

The owners also must develop plans to decrease water infiltration from the radioactive waste and increase worker safety. An interim cap at the disposal area would limit worker exposure.

Blue Ridge already has adopted a plan to detect and prevent the disposal of any more radioactive waste into the landfill.

The owners agreed to a $95,000 civil penalty that the state agreed to offset by allowing the company to perform certain environmental projects. For example, Blue Ridge agreed to deposit $60,000 into an escrow account for the Estill County school district to pay toward the detection and mitigation of naturally occurring radon.

Comments on the plan should be submitted in writing to Jeff Cummins, director, Division of Enforcement, 300 Sower Boulevard, Frankfort, Ky. 40601, or by email to Jeff.Cummins@ky.gov no later than Feb. 11. Please reference Agency Interest No. 998 and Agreed Order DWM-160048 on any correspondence.

A copy of the corrective action plan is available for inspection at the Estill County Public Library during regular hours. The plan and other records related to it can be viewed at DEP.gateway.ky.gov/publicfiles or at the Division of Waste Management’s Frankfort office, 300 Sower Boulevard, Frankfort, between 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. weekdays, by appointment only.

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