Scott County’s revised Solid Waste Management Plan should have never been approved by the state’s Energy and Environmental Cabinet and should be rescinded pending a full review, states an opinion released last week by an environmental administration hearing officer.
“Our counsel disagrees with the hearing officer’s opinion, and we’ll be filing an exception to the report,” said County Judge-Executive Joe Pat Covington. “We feel the opinion is flawed.”
Hearing Officer Virginia Baker Gorley’s opinion is a setback for the Scott County Fiscal Court, which revised its Solid Waste Management Plan last year in hopes of eventually closing the Central Kentucky Landfill due to its frequent violations and that the landfill had exceeded its capacity, county officials said. Central Kentucky landfill is owned by Waste Services of the Bluegrass (WSB).
Gorley’s findings are an opinion, not a court ruling, which means it will be among other documents used by the Secretary of the State Energy and Environment Cabinet to make a final determination on the county’s Solid Waste Management Plan.
“The petitioner, Waste Services of the Bluegrass, LLC, has proven by a preponderance of the evidence that the Respondent, Energy and Environmental Cabinet failed to comply with KRS 224.43-310 in approving Scott County Fiscal Court’s amended 2018-2022 Solid Waste Management Plan, by failing to ensure adequate capacity existed for disposal of solid waste generated within the Commonwealth and for failing to coordinate with other counties whose solid waste management plans would be impacted by the approval of the amended (plan),” states Gorley’s opinion.
The county’s Solid Waste Management Plan is rescinded and the state Energy and Environmental Cabinet is instructed to review the plan “in accordance with the law,” states Gorley’s opinion. In addition, WSB’s challenge for two permits for expansion are granted and remanded back to the state for review pending the final decision regarding the county’s Solid Waste Management Plan.
Scott County revised its Solid Waste Management Plan on June 25, 2020, which essentially states that once Central Kentucky Landfill reached its current capacity, no additional solid waste could be dumped in the county. County officials estimated the landfill would reach capacity by the end of 2020, but a court later granted an extension until Oct. 31, 2021, in order to allow other government agencies to make contingency plans.
Central Kentucky Landfill has filed for permits to expand, but Scott County Planning and Zoning Commission denied the requests due to zoning issues. WSB continues to challenge that denial in court.
Gorley’s ruling cites the state cabinet’s failure to contact other counties affected by Scott County’s revised Solid Waste Management Plan, as well as statements from other counties using Central Kentucky Landfill that there was “insufficient municipal solid waste landfill capacity” within 125 miles of Scott County.
Among the exhibits presented in court was a five-year solid waste management plan issued by the Scott County Fiscal Court in 2017 that states Central Kentucky Landfill had 7.8 million tons of remaining capacity with a life expectancy of 15 permitted years. That same plan allowed for the landfill to accept up to 300,000 tons annually for up to 10 years of “out of area waste.”
Upon developing the Solid Waste Management Plan last year, county officials estimated as much as 86 percent of the waste currently being hauled to the landfill is from out of the county. Each county is required to have a backup waste disposal plan, officials said.
Several weeks ago, Lexington’s Urban County Government Council issued a letter supporting WSB’s expansion of the landfill. Lexington has a $3.5 million contract with WSB to dispose of its solid waste through 2025.
Central Kentucky Landfill is located on 102 acres in northern Scott County on Double Culvert Road.
Mike Scogin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.