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TENORM in KY Landfills: Loopholes, Questionable Business Practices

Documents show nearly 50 containers of low-level radioactive West Virginia fracking waste was dumped into a Kentucky landfill, amid regulatory confusion and questionable business practices. (WV DHHR)
Documents show nearly 50 containers of low-level radioactive West Virginia fracking waste was dumped into a Kentucky landfill, amid regulatory confusion and questionable business practices. (WV DHHR)
August 3, 2016

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Behind the low-level radioactive waste dumped in a Kentucky landfill are regulatory loopholes and questionable business practices, according to state and local documents.

Tom FitzGerald, director of the Kentucky Resources Council, obtained correspondence between Kentucky and West Virginia officials, and said it showed that regulators didn't coordinate. In the confusion, he said, several firms run by the same person dumped "Technologically-Enhanced, Naturally-Occurring Radioactive Materials" from West Virginia and Ohio fracking operations into the Estill County landfill. One company, Advanced TENORM Services, came to light first.

"The landfill records in Estill County, which showed a couple of other companies had shipped TENORM waste," he said, "one being Nuverra, I believe, and another being a Cambrian Services."

According to state filings, Cory Hoskins operates Advanced TENORM Services out of the West Liberty, Ky., public library. Landfill records show him as the head of Cambrian Well Services and Nuverra, both based in Norwich, Ohio. Hoskins has not returned numerous calls and messages.

Mike Manypenny, a former Taylor County delegate and current congressional candidate, said dust from TENORM can lodge in the lungs and cause cancer. He worked in the Legislature to keep hot frack waste from creating problems in West Virginia landfills. West Virginia isn't coordinating the frack-waste disposal with the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission, let alone other states, he said.

"We need to have a cradle-to-grave monitoring system to make sure that we know where these materials have come from, and where it ends up when it's disposed of," he said.

The view from Kentucky is similar, said FitzGerald.

"Everyone seems to be mostly concerned about what's going on in their own state," he said, "rather than assuring that wherever these wastes are going, that they're going to a place that is properly operated and managed."

State officials in Kentucky have decided to pursue civil but not criminal charges. They say the waste is safer where it is, rather than being dug up again.

More information on TENORM is online at epa.gov.

Dan Heyman, Public News Service - WV