Why didn’t state notify Estill County of illegal radioactive dump right away?


FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – The state didn’t notify Estill County officials for at least two weeks after learning that radioactive waste was illegally dumped in a landfill across from two schools. Estill County officials wanted to know why the state didn’t tell them right away and so did ABC 36 News, so we went to Frankfort for answers.

The Kentucky Department for Public Health says the reason the state didn’t tell Estill County officials as soon as it learned of the illegal dumping at Blue Ridge landfill is because the state radiation branch did an assessment at the site and didn’t find any above normal radiation levels, so there wasn’t any risk to the public.

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Estill County officials say they weren’t told until last Thursday, February 25, that 1,500 tons of low-level radioactive waste had been illegally dumped in the landfill across from the county high school and middle school.

A West Virginia-based company is accused of dumping the waste by container from July 2015 to November 2015, according to Estill County officials.

The state says it doesn’t believe there is an ongoing health risk at the site because the material is buried. The state did say had there been any health risk at all, the county would have been notified immediately.

“I think we were trying to put the pieces together about what had actually been dumped at this particular site. At one point, we were just trying to find what sites, and actually that’s part of our investigation, just trying to put the pieces together, and what material it might be,” said Kraig Humbaugh, Deputy Commissioner, Kentucky Department of Public Health.

Humbaugh went on to say there’s still a lot to figure out, including if the people who work at the landfill are at risk and if so, what kind of exposure to the radioactive waste.

There’s a public forum scheduled for Tuesday, March 1, at 6:00 p.m., at Estill County High School where officials will answer questions and address concerns.