Public forum held to discuss illegal dumping of radioactive waste

Published: Mar. 1, 2016 at 11:26 PM EST
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A public forum was held Tuesday night for public officials to discuss with Estill County community members where the investigation stands into the illegally dumping of radioactive material at a landfill in Estill County.

Public officials explained to the crowd of nearly 600 people Tuesday night that there is no immediate public health threat as a result of technologically enhanced naturally occurring radioactive material(TENORM) that was illegally dumped at the Blue Ridge Landfill in Estill County in 2015.

“There is not a present threat to public health meaning that whatever material has been put into that landfill has been sufficiently buried so as to not cause an immediate threat. As has been alluded to, we’re also concerned about the potential for past threat. And that’s what we’re really trying to evaluate at the moment,” Cabinet for Health and Family Services Department for Public Health Matthew McKinley said.

“I feel like the more tests we can get the more assurance we can get the safer you all will feel in our community,” Estill County Judge Executive Wallace Taylor said.

“The material was brought here in closed containers but then the boxes were emptied and dumped into the landfill,” Department for Environmental Protection Assistant Director Jon Maybriar said.

Officials are now currently trying to figure out exactly where the more than 2000 tons of radioactive material was buried and how deep it was buried at the landfill.

After the public officials spoke, many people from the crowd had questions and concerns.

Director of Landfill Operations in the East Region Dave Retell said the Blue Ridge Landfill did not know they were accepting radioactive waste.

“What we can tell from what we currently have right now, Judge, is it was characterized not as TENORM waste, it was characterized as regular drilling mud,” Director of Landfill Operations in the East Region Dave Retell said.

Several people said they were concerned about what else could be buried at the landfill…One person calling the landfill a time bomb.

“And what is usually done when a time bomb is discovered or suspected? You find it and you remove it,” the citizen said.

State investigators will continue to test the landfill and determine what needs to be done with the radioactive waste. The Blue Ridge Landfill is expected to receive a violation notice sometime this week.

“There will be remedial measures embedded within that notice of violation that the landfill will need to be doing quickly,” Department for Environmental Protection Assistant Director Jon Maybriar said.