In 2015 and 2016, 96 truck loads – nearly 1500 tons – of radioactive waste from hydraulic fracturing operations in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia were illegally dumped in a landfill in Estill County, Kentucky, just across the road from the county’s high school and middle school. We began representing the Concerned Citizens of Estill County in early 2016.
As the state began its enforcement against the landfill in 2016, we advocated for greater community participation. Specifically, we asked that the Concerned Citizens of Estill County be given a seat at the table as the state negotiated its enforcement with the landfill. The state refused our request, and reached a settlement. The citizens of Estill County did not believe that the settlement agreement was protective enough. We also asked that the state provide us with all records of its settlement communications with the landfill. The state refused, claiming that such records were privileged settlement communications. On behalf of the Concerned Citizens of Estill County, we sued to get those communications under Kentucky’s Open Records Act. The Franklin Circuit Court agreed with our arguments and ordered that the state release its settlement communications. The state appealed. That appeal is still pending. Also on behalf of the Concerned Citizens of Estill County and with the help of Kentucky Resources Council, Inc., we challenged the state’s settlement with the landfill, arguing that the remediation required was not sufficiently protective. We are currently negotiating a more protective remediation plan that we hope will be finalized soon.