Central Kentucky Landfill took it on the chin Friday when the Scott County Fiscal Court received two pieces of news that secured its plans to close the landfill.
Judge Thomas Wingate denied Waste Services of the Bluegrass — owners of Central Kentucky Landfill — an injunction preventing the landfill closing on Oct. 31. Last year, the county passed an amended Solid Waste Management Plant that prohibited any solid waste disposal once the landfill reached capacity, which local officials said was late last year. A judge extended that deadline to Oct. 31, 2021, in order to allow municipalities time to find an alternative for their solid waste disposal. Last week, WSB filed an injunction in an effort to prevent the closing.
The Energy & Environment Cabinet Office of Administrative Hearings released a judgment Friday that Hearing Officer Virginia Gorley was in error when she recommended in April that Scott County’s Solid Waste Management Plan was in errors and should be rescinded.
“It is my conclusion that the Hearing Officer erred when she concluded that the Cabinet was required to review constructed rather than the permitted capacity and engage in additional coordination with the other counties prior to approving the amendment,” states the ruling by Cabinet Secretary Rebecca Goodman.
WSB filed two petitions claiming the county’s Solid Waste Management Plan was invalid and the Cabinet’s refusal to consider the landfill’s expansion application was contrary to law.
“(WSB) owns and operates a landfill on Double Culvert Road, Georgetown, Scott County, Kentucky, known as Central Kentucky Landfill (hereinafter “landfill”),” states Goodman’s ruling. “The landfill was the primary one serving Scott County. In 2019, after numerous odor and operating violations, the Scott County Fiscal Court secured assurances for waste disposal from other facilities and amended its sold waste management plan to reduce the authorized capacity for waste disposal in the county to zero, effectively terminating its permission for hosting a landfill beyond its current permitted capacity.
In Kentucky, ‘local area solid waste plans developed by local governing bodies are to effectively provide control on the flow of municipal solid waste into a disposal facility, thereby ensuring capacity needs for an area are met and the ability to control capacity for out-of-area waste. Any increases in disposal capacity in Scott County would be inconsistent with its amended plan.”
The landfill and the county have been embroiled in a series of legal disputes dating back almost a decade. The problems escalated in 2015 when WSB signed a contract with the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government to receive its solid waste. Semi-tractor trailers and large garbage trucks soon began traveling U.S. 25 from Lexington to the landfill in northern Scott County, sparking concerns from residents. In September, 2016, Kim Smith, a Georgetown mother of three, was killed when two trash trucks struck each other on U.S. 25. Smith was following one of the trucks and got caught in the collision.
Frequent complaints of odors and a class action lawsuit by some residents of Double Culvert Road pertaining to the road’s poor condition against the lawsuit added fuel to the county’s concerns.
Almost immediately after his election in 2019 as judge-executive, Joe Pat Covington began working to resolve the ongoing issues between the landfill and county. He arranged for a public hearing on the odor issues. In late April 2019, Greg Elkins, chief operating officer for the landfill, spoke to the fiscal court and assured them the odor issue was being addressed.
The odor complaints continued and eventually the county hired environmental attorney Tom FitzGerald for representation. The county later drafted an amended Solid Waste Management Plan that called for zero disposal of solid waste in the county once the landfill’s capacity was reached.
Mike Scogin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.