Radioactive Waste Will Stay in Estill County

May 16, 2018

Two Estill County schools are close to the contaminated landfill.

Kentucky’s Energy and Environment Cabinet has approved a plan that will enclose radioactive waste in an Estill County landfill. 

Last week state regulators agreed with operators of the Blue Ridge Landfill that keeping the radioactive waste in the ground is the best way to protect human health and the environment.

Energy and Environment Cabinet spokesman John Mura says digging up the material poses unnecessary health risks to workers and residents. It would also cause blowing dust, foul smells and increased traffic. 


“The Cabinet carefully considered all of the responses to the [Corrective Action Plan] and truly believes that this alternative is the best way forward.”

But that may be against the will of local residents who made public comments saying they prefer the landfill remove the waste.

Craig Williams of the Kentucky Environmental Foundation says the majority of residents who made public comments prefer the landfill remove the waste.

“The long-term health and environmental impact of that material is unknown and the only way to be sure is to have that material removed,” he said.

State regulators say the plan will include permanent land use restrictions and groundwater monitoring that will last at least until 2066.

But a risk assessment found the radioactive waste will be around a lot longer than the current landfill liner, which has a service half-life of less than 450 years.