Scott County Executive Judge Joe Covington said he expects the Central Kentucky Landfill to stop accepting solid waste by the end of the month.
The Central Kentucky Landfill (CKL), operated by Waste Services of the Bluegrass (WSB) has been operating without a permit since reaching capacity late last year but was granted an injunction by the Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection to continue operating through Oct 31, 2021.
Covington said his understanding from the Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection is that they have since issued CKL a notice of violation for operating without a current permit and must cease accepting waste on October 31. CKL has been unsuccessful in several attempts to obtain permits for expansions that would have allowed them to continue operating.
Controversy over the landfill has been intensifying since 2015 when Waste Services of the Bluegrass signed a contract to accept trash from Fayette County. At that time plans for expansion were in place and WSB estimated that with expansion they would have capacity for another 20 years of waste disposal. Without expansion they would only have capacity to accept waste from Fayette and their other customers for just under four years.
Those expansion plans hit a roadblock in 2017 when Georgetown-Scott County Planning Director Joe Kane determined that 500 acres of land that CKL had purchased adjacent to the landfill was not properly zoned for waste disposal. That decision was upheld by the Scott County Board of Adjustment and ultimately resulted in an application from WSB to rezone 180 of the 500 acres, an application that was rejected by the Planning and Zoning Commission and the Scott County Fiscal Court in 2018.
In June of 2020 the Fiscal Court amended their solid waste plan to “zero-capacity” and passed a resolution to prohibit the disposal of solid waste in the county, effectively ending the possibility of landfill expansion by eliminating the possibility for CKL to obtain new permits from the county.
The amended solid waste plan, which utilizes landfills outside the county, was approved by the state Energy and Environmental Cabinet in August of 2020. However, several months later the cabinet issued an injunction until Oct. 31 of 2021 which has allowed CKL to continuing operating beyond their permitted capacity due to “insufficient municipal solid waste landfill capacity within 125 miles of Central Kentucky Landfill to offset the daily waste generated in the countries served [by CKL] without severely reducing the remaining capacity of those other landfills.”
Local residents have been raising concerns about traffic and odor caused by the landfill for years. Trash-haulers on U.S. 25 have been involved in several accidents, including the 2016 collision that resulted in the death of Kim Smith and a 2017 incident where a trash-hauler clipped a school bus, shattering a window.
In 2018 the landfill began to implement new measures to reduce odor after an increase in complaints to state regulators. By April of 2019 odor complaints had reached an average of five complaints per day and 13 out of 15 odor inspections from the Division of Air Quality resulted in a Notice of Violation. By May, three local residents filed a class action lawsuit against WSB seeking monetary damages and injunctive relief from “intolerable and noxious odors”.
The landfill also has a history of violations for failure to provide safety training, not properly preventing dust and mud issues on Double Culvert road caused by trash-haulers and failing to install explosive-gas detectors in indoor buildings. Between April 2013 and October 2015 CKL accepted illegal hazardous waste from Global Environmental Services. CKL was fined $30,000 for a number of violations related to the incident including failing to implement a program to detect and prevent the disposal of hazardous waste.
The City of Georgetown is still under contract with CKL to accept waste from Georgetown through December 31, 2021. According to Mayor Tom Prather the City of Georgetown bid out options and will use the new Rumpke Transfer Station in Georgetown in the event that CKL is not able to fulfill that contract for the time period between Oct 31 and Dec 31. This would incur additional expense for the City that would be absorbed by the general fund and would not increase rates for users during this time.
Mayor Prather expects that the city council will vote on proposals for privatization of pickup services before the end of the year and that, if adopted, a new waste disposal provider could begin services as soon as January 1.
Elizabeth Morey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.