by Lisa Bicknell
I hope everyone who possibly can will come to the informational rally concerning the landfill which is to take place on Saturday night at the high school track. The event is being organized by the Concerned Citizens of Estill County.
Several members of CCEC are not from Estill County, but they live downriver from the alleged illegal dumping of radioactive material, and they have plenty of cause for concern.
Irvine Municipal Utilities gets its water from the river pool above the watershed that drains around the landfill. Does that mean Estill Countians shouldn’t be concerned? Absolutely not.
We should care on several levels.
For one, air and water can be contaminated throughout the area in ways that are not immediately obvious. Besides, someone allegedly brought in material they knew was illegal- at least 2000 tons of it. That’s reason enough for this community to be angry, even if the material were not hazardous.
Maybe the guilty party counted on local citizens not resisting, not caring, not speaking out. If someone thought that, they were wrong, and the best way to prove it is to attend the rally on Saturday, July 16, from 5 to 8 p.m. Attendance at the event will send a statement to the landfill, to county officials and to state officials, which brings me to my next point.
State officials reportedly knew the material was coming our way. Why didn’t they stop it? The illegal dumping did not stop until two days AFTER the Louisville Courier-journal broke the story that it was happening, according to that same newspaper.
That is just plain inexcusable.
While Kentucky regulations concerning frack waste are almost non-existent and governments nationwide aren’t sure what to do with it, dumping from any other state but Illinois is illegal in Kentucky. Period. Regulators knew that much, but it appears someone looked the other way when they were tipped that the material might be deposited here.
There are those who still insist that the material is “just dirt.” It’s hard to argue otherwise, because the state hasn’t yet released test results that explain exactly what it is.
We do know for sure that the stuff came from the dirt, but during the fracking process, chemical cocktails are added to the water used, and companies are not required to disclose which additives they use.
I can’t for the life of me make sense of that.
Fracking companies are permitted to choose from hundreds of chemicals, many of them known to be carcinogenic, and they don’t have to disclose which ones they use, in many cases, not even to state governments.
Companies often inject the waste water deep into the earth, but that practice has triggered a lot of earthquakes, particularly in Oklahoma.
So fracking companies came up with a way to process frack waste so the water can be recycled. Wouldn’t the resulting concentrated material contain much higher levels of radiation than normal background radiation from the earth? And who knows what else is in there?
To put this into perspective, Ohio does not accept waste with a concentration above 5 picocuries per gram, according to an article published in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Courier-journal reporter James Brugger reported in May that Curt Pendergrass, the supervisor of the Energy and Environment Cabinet’s radioactive materials branch, said in a meeting that radioactive waste exceeding 2,000 picocuries per gram was dumped in Estill County.
That sounds pretty “hot” to me.
Our landfill was not designed for such waste. With some of the elements in the “dirt” having half-lives of thousands of years, I’m not sure that any landfill would ultimately be safe accepting it, in the long run.
Our handling of this situation is important, because the problem of what to do with frack waste is a fairly new one, and precedents will be set.
Deep well horizontal hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, has resulted in a domestic oil boom, with the obvious benefit of a more plentiful supply of oil and gas, but serious concerns to public health are increasingly coming to light.
Seems to me those concerns are being glossed over by oil corporations and governments who are eager for financial gain.
But Estill County is not to be taken advantage of, and we are ready to voice that in the public rally at the high school, directly across from the infamous dump, on Saturday night, July 16, from 5 to 8 p.m.
Your presence counts. Take a stand, and come be informed. The well-being of generations of our families depends on our involvement.