Monday, March 07, 2016

Was oil and gas radioactive waste dumped in Ky.? Officials say state lacks budget for new regulations

Environmental advocates fear that Kentucky has been a dumping ground for radioactive waste from an oil and natural gas boom in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, James Bruggers reports for The Courier-Journal of Louisville: "Kentucky does not require any radiation screening at landfills. Landfill operators count on haulers to honestly describe the wastes they bring for disposal." But representatives at a east-central Kentucky landfilly "say they were duped and not told that sludge from West Virginia was dangerously radioactive, as state officials believe." Illegal dumping was believed to have occurred in two Eastern Kentucky counties.

Kentucky's leading environmental lawyer, Tom FitzGerald, told Bruggers that a working group charged with making recommendations to modernize state oversight of oil and gas drilling needs to resume its deliberations.

Kentucky Energy and Environment Secretary Charles Snavely, a former coal company executive recently appointed by newly elected Republican Gov. Matt Bevin, "said that group will begin work again and is being charged with evaluating potential remedies for harmful substances," Bruggers reports. Snavely told him, “If our current rules and procedures require modification, we’ll make those modifications.” Snavely previously "expressed skepticism about any new oil and gas drilling regulations, noting the impact of pending budget cuts." He told the advsory Environmental Quality Commission, "My question is where is the money going to come from to do the regulating?" Bevin has called for a 9 percent budget cut to shore up state pensions.

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