Estill citizens want say in state negotiations with polluter


IRVINE (AP) — Estill County residents are asking for two seats at the table as state regulators discuss an agreement with a local landfill operator accused of illegally dumping low-level nuclear waste.

The Courier-Journal reports a Tuesday letter to Energy and Environment Secretary Charles Snavely says Concerned Citizens of Estill County Inc. members are likely to distrust any agreement reached without citizen participation.

Cabinet spokesman John Mura did not immediately have an answer to why the citizen group was not allowed to participate in talks with Advanced Disposal. But Mura said that the cabinet is vigorously pursuing a consent agreement.

State officials have said more than 1,000 cubic yards of fracking waste was illegally dumped in Estill. County officials were furious that state officials did not immediately inform them when they first learned about the dumping.

The cabinet has said that interested parties will have an opportunity to review and comment on any draft agreement with the company to provide a long-term solution to the waste disposal.

But citizens say that isn’t good enough.

Craig Williams is a CCEC member and a spokesman for the Kentucky Environmental Foundation of Berea.

“This process of reaching tentative agreements between agencies and polluters while relegating impacted citizens to providing comments is a procedure long used to marginalize community input,” he said.

From July through November 2015, state officials say waste from fracking operations in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia made its way to the Estill dump against a state law that prohibits the importation of such waste from any state other than Illinois. State officials say tests indicate no immediate threat to public health.

The Kentucky attorney general’s office in July declined to pursue any criminal charges but has said civil damages could be pursed. The Cabinet for Health and Family Services also has said it is investigating.

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