Community shocked after learning about radioactive waste at Estill Co. landfill

Published: Feb. 25, 2016 at 11:08 PM EST
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While state leaders say radioactive waste was dumped at an Estill County landfill months ago, county leaders say they did not find out about it until Thursday.

Blue Ridge Landfill is on Kentucky 89 (Winchester Road), not far from Estill County middle and high schools. Just across the highway from the landfill, Gene Reece and his wife have lived in their home right next to the high school for years.

Maybe not for much longer.

"We'll probably sell out and move. Try to," Reece said. "I don't know who would buy the place, having something like this next door to them."

Reece and many others in Estill County told WKYT's Garrett Wymer that they have a lot of questions after


County leaders are concerned, too.

"Any time the term 'radiological' is thrown around it's scary to people," said Estill Co. Emergency Management Director Ronnie Riddell. "Our very first, most important duty is to ensure the safety of our community."

Riddell and Estill Co. Judge-Executive Wallace Taylor say another reason they are concerned is that the state did not inform them when it began its investigation in January.

Riddell says his office first found out about it when WKYT called him in response to the article


"Do you feel this is something you should've known about before two o'clock today?" WKYT's Garrett Wymer asked Riddell.

"I would've hoped so, yes," he responded.

Riddell said the state assured him that this is not a public health threat to the community.

But folks in Estill County said they are not convinced. Not yet.

"It's just pitiful that we would let something like this happen to the local communities," Gene Reece said.

Now Estill Co. residents say they want to know why - and perhaps more importantly - what happens next.

"If I go to sleep tonight - I'll be praying," Reece said. "That's for sure."