For Immediate Release 18 August 2016
ESTILL COUNTY GROUP PUSHES FOR INVOLVEMENT IN ANY SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE STATE AND THE LANDFILL
Group Calls for a Seat at the Table BEFORE any Tentative Agreement is Reached
The Concerned Citizens of Estill County (CCEC) are not satisfied with the plans by the Energy and Environmental Cabinet (EEC) to allow mere comments on agreements made between the Cabinet and Advanced Disposal Services, the owner of the landfill where 2000 tons of radioactive waste was illegally dumped.
In a letter sent to Charles G. Snavely, Secretary of the Energy and Environment Cabinet, on Tuesday, CCEC formerly asked that two CCEC members be given a seat at the table in negotiations with Advanced Disposal Services. The letter noted that “The opportunity to comment on a settlement after it has been negotiated between EEC and the company is insufficient to ensure that the affected citizens are adequately protected in the remediation plan.”
The letter follows up on CCEC’s petition, which was hand-delivered to Governor Bevin on July 19, 2016. The petition, which was signed by 186 local citizens, formally asked the Governor for the following:
1. Provide us with full access to all information in the possession of state agencies regarding the characteristics of the fracking waste; the amount of waste disposed of in the Estill County landfill; and the dates of the disposal of the waste in the landfill.
2. Initiate legal charges in a public forum against the individuals and companies responsible for the disposal of fracking waste in Estill County and provide the opportunity to us and others interested in the matter to be fully involved in determining the disposition of the matter.
3. Initiate a process that ensures scientifically sound remediation measures are implemented that protect the residents of Estill County and others who may be adversely impacted from harm caused by the fracking waste, now and in the long term.
To date neither the Governor nor any representative of the Energy and Environment Cabinet has responded to the petition. The letter, sent by Mary Cromer of Appalachian Citizens’ Law Center, Inc. on behalf of the group, goes on to state that “CCEC is frustrated that Governor Bevin has not responded to the petition. EEC’s public statements that the result of negotiations will only be made public after an agreement is reached with Advanced Disposal regarding remediation only heightens the group’s frustration.”
Craig Williams, a CCEC member and spokesperson for the Kentucky Environmental Foundation of Berea, KY noted, ”This process of reaching “tentative” agreements between agencies and polluters while relegating impacted citizens to providing comments is a procedure long used to marginalize community input. The comments can be completely ignored, and often time are.”
The letter concludes that “By inviting CCEC to participate in the negotiations prior to reaching an agreement, EEC can overcome the problems that have already been created by the lack of transparency related to the state’s investigation and get community support for the plans.”
One of the individuals elected to represent the CCEC at the negotiation table is Mr. Tom Hart, vice-chair of the CCEC Board of Directors. Mr. Hart had this to say: "In view of the fact that state offices ignored the citizens and county offices of Estill County during the early months of this investigation, and the local distrust of state actions that arose from these state actions, inclusion of local representatives in all negotiations concerning corrective and remedial actions is essential to crafting a resolution acceptable to the local citizenry. Without the inclusion of local representation in negotiations, any resolution will be met with skepticism and a perception of collusion."
Copies of the letter to Secretary Snavely can be seen at: https://appalachiancitizenslaw.files.wordpress.com/2016/08/2016-08-16-snavely-ltr.pdf