Op-Ed

Kentucky should reverse decision leaving radioactive fracking waste in Estill landfill

Blue Ridge Landfill in Estill County.
Blue Ridge Landfill in Estill County. gkocher1@herald-leader.com

The decision by Kentucky’s Energy and Environment Cabinet to approve leaving the radioactive material illegally dumped in the Blue Ridge Landfill in place violates the clear intent of the Constitution of the United States. The very first sentence states that the Union is formed to “provide for the general welfare” of the citizens.

The American Heritage Dictionary defines “welfare” as health, happiness and well-being.

The cabinet’s decision clearly does not provide for the health, happiness and well being of the people of Estill County who have demanded that the poisonous material be removed and transported to a landfill approved to accept such materials. Many people in the 14 counties downstream from the landfill concur.

The decision clearly does provide for the general welfare of the corporations involved. It is far cheaper to leave the material in place, just as it was far cheaper to ship it to Estill County in the first place.

Further, Amendment XIV of the Constitution states: “nor shall any State deprive any person of life or property, without due process of law.”

Kentucky’s Energy and Environment Cabinet’s decision does threaten the lives and properties of the people of Estill County and other downstream counties.

The fracking waste, which came from drilling operations in other states, contains radium 226 that behaves like calcium in the human body. It is incorporated into the bones and causes lung cancer. As it decays, it produces radon gas that also causes lung cancer. It is life-threatening and persists for thousands of years. It requires 1,600 years to lose just half of its radioactivity. It can enter both water and land food chains leading to human consumption.

It is hard to imagine how any state agency that is aware of the number of people who have suffered or are currently suffering from lung disorders would approve a plan that increases the risk.

Also, the people of Estill County are deprived of properties as land values are affected by the cabinet’s decision.

Nowhere in the EEC’s decision are there funds for Estill County citizens or those in any other affected counties to cover the increased medical costs of treating lung cancer, or to compensate for reductions in property values for many years to come.

The Energy and Enviornment Cabinet needs to reverse its decision and concentrate on whatever promotes the general welfare of the citizens.

Robert W. Shaffer of Berea is a member of Concerned Citizens of Estill County.

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