An Estill County group said Monday that they want illegally dumped radioactive waste removed from a landfill.
The group called Concerned Citizens of Estill County said they disagree with the state’s announced plan to leave the waste in place at Blue Ridge Landfill near Irvine.
“The community simply does not accept that this illegally dumped radioactive waste should be left in the landfill,” said Mary Cromer, an attorney with the Appalachian Citizens Law Center. “There are too many uncertainties regarding how radioactive the waste is. The only way that the community is going to be sufficiently protected is if this material is removed.”
More than 1,100 tons of radioactive waste from hydraulic fracking operations in West Virginia and Ohio were dumped in the landfill between July 2015 and February 2016.
A corrective action plan proposes to leave the radioactive material in place. The plan would also require the landfill to install additional caps over the waste and require the landfill to monitor for radionuclides in the water leaving the site until the end of the landfill’s operations, which is expected to occur in 2034.
Leaving the material in place 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 in January.
But Irvine businesswoman Rhonda Childers said that doesn’t address “the sense of violation we feel as Estill County citizens.”
Nor does it address “the worry we feel for our own health and that of our children, grandchildren and future generations,” she said.
“Too often folks living in small communities like Estill County feel they are the losers when facing a challenge of this magnitude,” Childers said. “I call on members of the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet to stand with members of the community to restore faith in the process and to ensure this waste is swiftly and safety removed.”
Tom Bonny, former superintendent of Estill County public schools, said the majority of residents who have spoken on the issue “indicate that they will not have peace of mind” if the radioactive material is left in place, “therefore I support the community’s desire for removal.”