A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

State Energy and Environment Cabinet cites Ashland landfill for accepting radioactive waste

Kentucky Energy and Environment Secretary Charles Snavely announced Tuesday that a Notice of Violation containing four violations has been issued against Green Valley Landfill General Partnership in Ashland, Ky., after an investigation found that the landfill had accepted 26 loads (368.5 tons) of low-level radioactive waste, commonly known as TENORM (Technologically Enhanced Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material).

The Department of Environmental Protection, Division of Waste Management investigation showed that the Green Valley Landfill accepted and disposed of unauthorized low-level radioactive waste from May, 2015 through January, 2016, failed to properly record the source, disposal location and quantity of spill residues and limited quantity generator hazardous wastes, failed to characterize a release or potential release of TENORM/ NORM to the environment, and failed to record the dumping of the material on appropriate forms.

Secretary Charles Snavely

Secretary Charles Snavely

The violations will be referred for enforcement action. Green Valley Landfill officials were notified late Tuesday afternoon.

Environmental advocates fear that Kentucky has been a dumping ground for radioactive waste from an oil and natural gas boom in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

James Bruggers reports for The Courier-Journal of Louisville: “Kentucky does not require any radiation screening at landfills. Landfill operators count on haulers to honestly describe the wastes they bring for disposal.”

But representatives at a east-central Kentucky landfills “say they were duped and not told that sludge from West Virginia was dangerously radioactive, as state officials believe.”

Illegal dumping was believed to have occurred in two Eastern Kentucky counties.

Kentucky’s leading environmental lawyer, Tom FitzGerald, told Bruggers that a working group charged with making recommendations to modernize state oversight of oil and gas drilling needs to resume its deliberations.

Snavely, a former coal company executive recently appointed by Gov. Matt Bevin, “said that group will begin work again and is being charged with evaluating potential remedies for harmful substances,” Bruggers reports.

Snavely told him, “If our current rules and procedures require modification, we’ll make those modifications.”

Snavely previously “expressed skepticism about any new oil and gas drilling regulations, noting the impact of pending budget cuts.”

He told the advsory Environmental Quality Commission, “My question is where is the money going to come from to do the regulating?”

Bevin has called for a 9 percent budget cut to shore up state pensions.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

From The Rural Blog, Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet Communications

The Rural Blog is a digest of events, trends, issues, ideas and journalism from and about rural America, from the IRJCI, based at the University of Kentucky. The Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues is an extension program for rural journalists and news outlets. It takes no positions on issues and advocates only for strong news coverage, responsible commentary and things that make them possible, such as open-government laws. For more information see www.RuralJournalism.org.

Related Posts

Leave a Comment