Waste Services of the Bluegrass filed a motion Tuesday seeking an injunction to prevent the closure of its Central Kentucky landfill in northern Scott County.
Chief Judge, Circuit Court, Thomas Wingate heard arguments via Zoom, Wednesday from attorneys representing Scott County and WSB. Wingate has said he will issue a decision by Oct. 31.
Two years ago, the Scott County Fiscal Court approved an amended Solid Waste Management Plan that called for “zero-capacity” waste disposal in the county once Central Kentucky Landfill reached capacity. The state approved the amended plan, and local officials said the landfill reached capacity late last year. Early this year, a court ruling extended the timeline for the landfill closing to Oct. 31 in order to allow municipalities using the landfill to find an alternate site for its solid waste disposal.
In July, the Kentucky Department of Energy and Environment Cabinet received an opinion from Hearing Officer Virginia Baker Gorley, that Scott County’s amended solid waste plan was not properly approved and should be sent back to the cabinet for review. Scott County’s amended Solid Waste Management Plan, which calls for “zero-capacity” waste disposal in the county, is the key roadblock to WSB receiving permits for expansion from the cabinet which would allow them to continue operating.
“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 secretary of the Cabinet of Energy and Environment to date has not acted to re-approve or reject the county’s waste management plan since Gorley’s opinion was issued. Statute allows the secretary 90 days to respond. Attorneys for WSB argue that since 90 days have passed the Court should determine that the Hearing Officer’s Report and Recommendation should be the final order. They requested the Oct. 31 deadline be stayed pending either the Cabinet’s review of two permit applications they have on file or pending the issuance of a final order by the Cabinet Secretary.
“Our business is going to be irreparably impaired if we have to close on Oct. 31 despite that there is a path, per the hearing officer’s decision, where we should be able to have additional permitted capacity and that should allow us to stay open,” stated Adrianne Strong, attorney for WSB.
“This is really balancing the host county’s desire to no longer host a landfill against the landfill’s desire to have someone force [the county] to keep the landfill open against their will,” argued Tom FitzGerald, the attorney advising the Scott County Fiscal Court. “The balance of the equities is really between the citizens who have had to put up with all of those years of odor and other violations and decided they no longer want to host a landfill”.
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.
Beginning 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 5 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.
Elizabeth Morey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.