For more information, contact:
Tom Hart: (606) 723-9678
Robert Shaffer: (859) 200-8047
Mary Cromer: (606) 633-3929
For Immediate Release
The Concerned Citizens of Estill County, Inc. (“CCEC”) has brought suit against Kentucky’s Office of the Attorney General, the Cabinet for Health and Family Services (“CHFS”), and the Energy and Environment Cabinet (“EEC”) seeking public records related to the illegal dumping of around 1,200 tons of radioactive fracking waste in Estill County, Kentucky.
For the past six months, CCEC has been working with the two Cabinets to understand the agency’s enforcement actions related to the illegal dumping. While the agencies have been cooperative with the citizens’ group in many ways, key documents related to the investigation are still being withheld.
According to Mary Cromer, staff attorney for Appalachian Citizens’ Law Center, Inc., who represents the group in the lawsuit, “The public needs full access to the agencies’ records so that it can better understand the bases for the Cabinets’ enforcement actions.” The enforcement actions include the proposed agreed order between the EEC and the landfill, Advanced Disposal Services Blue Ridge Landfill, Inc., and the nine civil penalty orders issued by CHFS on November 10, 2016. “In particular, the public has a right to review all communications between the Cabinets and the entities it regulates to assess the propriety of the Cabinets’ enforcement actions,” Cromer said.
In addition to the Open Records Act claims against the two Cabinets, CCEC has sued the Office of the Attorney General, seeking access to all records of its criminal investigations related to the illegal dumping. On July 15, 2016, the Office of the Attorney General announced the closure of its criminal investigation, stating that there was “insufficient evidence to seek criminal charges in the disposal of radioactive waste at the Blue Ridge Landfill in Estill County.”
“Based on the records we have seen, there is no justifiable explanation for the Attorney General’s decision not to seek criminal charges,” said CCEC member Bob Shaffer.
Despite its decision not to prosecute, on August 20, 2016, the Office of Attorney General refused to disclose any records related to its investigation stating in a letter that “the matter is under investigation and premature disclosure of this information would be detrimental to the satisfactory conclusion of the investigation.”
“The Attorney General’s refusal to turn over any records of its investigation adds insult to injury. The Attorney General has refused to justify its failure to prosecute. The public deserves an explanation,” said Mr. Shaffer.
Copies of CCEC’s Complaint filed against the Office of the Attorney General and the two Cabinets can be seen at: https://appalachiancitizenslaw.files.wordpress.com/2016/11/2016-11-09-first-amended-complaint.pdf.