Environment

kentucky.com

NOTE: Updated to include responses from the Energy and Environment Cabinet and the Cabinet for Health and Family Services as well as one from the state's Attorney General's office.

An Estill County citizens group is taking legal action against three state entities.  The organization wants more information on the state’s response to the illegal dumping of low-level radioactive waste in the county landfill.

Stu Johnson

Removing radioactive materials illegally dumped in the Estill County Landfill is the best option, but state health officials told a crowd Monday that it will be a challenge.

  Tony Hatton, deputy commissioner of the Environmental Protection Cabinet, said the preferred option is to remove the material, but added it would likely be an extensive process involving large volumes of waste. 

During a 90-minute public forum at Estill County High School, state public health and environmental officials assured over 100 in the audience that the threat to public is health is low.

Stu Johnson

State officials Monday night sought to allay fears about health risks associated with the illegal dumping of radioactive waste at an Estill County landfill.  Their presentation included a description of just-announced penalties for responsible companies.

Well over a hundred people gathered in the Estill County High School auditorium not far from the landfill where fracking waste now resides buried under cover. 

Ky Drought Could Stress Water Supplies

Nov 14, 2016
nc dc.noaa.gov

Officials in some Kentucky communities may need to keep a close eye on their local water supply levels in the weeks ahead.  A Level One drought declaration was issued late last week for 117 counties in the state.  

State Climatologist Stuart Foster says the driest conditions have been found in Eastern and Southern Kentucky,  “There is some early indication some of the smaller water supply systems that traditionally are a little more vulnerable to drought, that they need to be aware of the situation and developing a plan of action to take if necessary.”

weku.fm

The timeline for disposal of mustard blister agent stored at the Blue Grass Army Depot appears likely to change.  Mustard and nerve munitions have been buried in bunkers at the Madison County army installation since World War II.  The change in scheduling could mean demilitarization of nerve agent first.

kentucky.com

A public health alert has been issued for a number of counties in Southeastern Kentucky.  It comes following ongoing wildland fires in the region.

The smoke inhalation advisory affects residents living in some nine counties.  Air quality tests this week indicated hazardous readings with significant health risks for the general public in some areas of Breathitt, Laurel, and Whitley counties. 

kentucky.com

Despite over 200 firefighters battling wildland fires in some eight Kentucky counties, the effort is expected to continue into next week.

State Division of Forestry Spokesman Mark Wiedewitsch says large fires in Pike County and the Pine Mountain area are contained.  But, he worries sun and wind could result in more new fires today.  Wiedewitsch says overnight rains helped only so much, “It really wasn’t enough.  To really make a dent in it, we really need a good inch or more.”

kentucky.com

A leader of a Central Kentucky citizens group says there remain outstanding issues regarding the illegal dumping of low-level radioactive fracking waste at the Estill County landfill.  

A proposed agreement announced Friday by state Energy and Environment Cabinet includes a $95,000 civil penalty for Advance Disposal Services Blue Ridge Landfill.  About two-thirds of that money would go for Radon monitoring and abatement at Estill County schools and at the landfill gate. 

kentucky.com

It could be months or years before a final resolution is reached regarding the dumping of radioactive waste in a central Kentucky landfill.  A county leader is interested in preventing any future similar incidents.

The case of the 2000 tons of low level radioactive waste in the Estill County landfill is being debated in the courts and the topic of state and landfill owner negotiations. 

Lexington Launching New Water Tank Era

Aug 29, 2016
Stu Johnson WEKU News

A massive overhaul of Lexington's sewer system includes meeting capacity demands for new developments.  It’s a project rooted in fixing problems while providing for new sewer connections.

As part of a federal mandate to upgrade the system, Lexington must meet standards in the "Sanitary Sewer Capacity Assurance Program." Council members were briefed on a CAP audit last week.

Advocacy Group Wants Role in Landfill Cleanup Negotiations

Aug 22, 2016
wkyt.com

    

A citizens group wants representation at the table as the state of Kentucky negotiates the clean-up of radioactive waste at a Central Kentucky landfill. The best a state official is offering is to hear citizen comments.

Representatives with the Energy and Environmental Cabinet are talking with Advanced Disposal Services.  It’s the owner of the Estill County landfill where 2,000 tons of radioactive waste was illegally dumped. 

Crews Work to Re-Rail Train Cars in Falmouth

Aug 11, 2016
wkyt.com

A representative of CSX Railroad is offering an apology to Falmouth residents for inconveniences related to Wednesday’s derailment.  24 cars left the track with four containing a hazardous material.  No leaks were found.  CSX Director of Communications Rob Doolittle says a community outreach center is open daily through Friday at eight o clock.  “We are happy to reimburse residents for out of pocket expenses or lost wages or interruption of their businesses that occurred as a result of this derailment.”

Cleanup Underway Following Falmouth Derailment

Aug 10, 2016
Screen capture from WKYT-TV

Citizens in the northern Kentucky city of Falmouth are breathing a sigh of relief following a train derailment involving cars that carried hazardous materials. 

A CSX train headed from Cincinnati to Atlanta came off the track Wednesday at mid-morning in the Pendleton County city of 2500.

24 cars derailed, including four containing sulfuric acid.  There were no injuries and CSX Spokeswoman Melanie Cost says there were no hazardous materials released. 

Third Highest Rainfall Average Recorded in July

Aug 8, 2016
kentuckynewera.com-July 2016 flooding

It’s been a damp summer in many portions of Kentucky, particularly during the month of July.  University of Kentucky Agricultural Meteorologist Matt Dixon says much of Kentucky averaged almost nine inches of rainfall for the month, while west Kentucky averaged more than a foot of rain.  “Officially, it’s the third wettest July that Kentucky has seen on record.  Now, that record goes back all the way back to 1895.”

Looking for Caves in Kentucky

Jul 6, 2016
caves.org

Jonathan Carman says there are many caves yet to be discovered throughout Kentucky.  Carman is vice president of the Bluegrass Grotto and works with the Cave Research Foundation.  The Jessamine County caver says he’s been in 40 to 50 caves, using a compass, inclinometer, and tape measure to survey areas underground.  Carman says he’s always felt confident about getting back out of a cave.  “But there have been times when I looked at part of the cave, whether tight or difficult to traverse, and thought long and hard about whether or not it was going to be worth the risk to take.”

Officials Focus on Lightning Safety

Jun 21, 2016
wikipedia

Lexington Emergency Management officials says one-third of lightning injuries occur indoors.  This information comes during  Lightning Safety Awareness Week.

Men are five times more likely than women to be struck by lightning. It may seem that lightning strikes themselves are rare, but the fires and deaths they cause are a very real problem.

Louisville National Weather Service Meteorologist Ryan Sharp says  although only ten percent of people who get hit by lightning die, the rest are left with lifelong injuries.

Sti Johnson
weku.com

Temperatures are expected to creep back into the 90’s Monday and that can mean a health risk for outdoor pets.  That’s especially the case when humidity levels spike as well. 

Lexington Humane Society Development Manager Ashley Hammond says there’s not a specific temperature for specific dogs when the risk is highest., “If it’s too hot for you, it’s too hot for your pet. You want to make sure you limit the time that they spend outside if the humidity level is high as well as the temperature is high."

U.S. Senate Action Seeks Munition Disposal Alternatives

Jun 17, 2016
bechtelparsonsbgcapp.com

    Efforts focusing on developing new methods for disposal of conventional munitions continue in Washington.  The legislation would likely impact operations at the Blue Grass Army Depot. 

The U.S. Senate this week approved the National Defense Authorization Act.  It included a provision seeking alternatives to open air burning and detonation of hazardous munitions waste.  

 

Kentucky River Sweep Cleans Up in 18 Counties

Jun 16, 2016
Kentucky River Authority

The Kentucky River Authority is credited with cleaning up many Kentucky waterways through its volunteer-driven River Sweeps. This weekend’s sweep at Ft. Boonesborough will add to a list of water quality successes.

Study: Kentuckians’ Views On Climate Change Based On Politics

Jun 13, 2016
wkms.org

A survey has found some interesting takeaways about Kentuckians’ attitudes toward climate change, including that the biggest influence on beliefs may be political affiliation rather than scientific knowledge.

There have been numerous studies about attitudes toward climate change around the country, but very few have looked at Kentucky specifically. For her master’s thesis at Kentucky State University, Jennifer Hubbard-Sanchez surveyed 229 Kentuckians about their climate change beliefs and knowledge.

Earth Day in Ky. Includes Focus on Lead, Radioactivity

Apr 22, 2016
soul-friends.com

Earth Day 2016 is being celebrated globally with events in Kentucky as well.   At the state level, there are two areas of environmental emphasis right now.

Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet Spokesman John Mura says an oil and gas work group begins meeting next month.  Topping its agenda will be radioactive material discovered recently in two Kentucky landfills.   He believes that was the genesis of the immediate work that the group is doing.  “I think that its mission will extend past that to all restricted substances,” said Mura.

National Environmental Health Director Comes to EKU

Apr 19, 2016
kyforward.com

The director of the National Environmental Health Association believes one day many pollutants from fossil fuel combustion will be greatly reduced.  Dr.

Hundreds Expected for 18th Reforest the Bluegrass

Apr 8, 2016
Stu Johnson / WEKU News

Hundreds of people are expected to help plant trees this weekend for the 18th Reforest the Bluegrass. Lexington Natural Resources Program Manager John Saylor says 7,000 seedlings are ready to be planted near Interstate 75 in the Deep Springs Greenway.  “It flushes chemicals and stuff into our creeks and streams and our waterways and so trees are our little bio-filters, they’re gonna capture a lot of that for us,” said Saylor.

Creative Commons/kyforward.com

The Kentucky Division of Forestry says the spring forest fire hazard season has begun.

A statement says burning laws will be enforced through April 30. During that time period, it is illegal to burn anything within 150 feet of woodland or brush land between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m.

Officials said the law bans burning during times when conditions are most likely to cause a blaze to spread.

Weather Varies During Holidays Across U.S.

Dec 29, 2015
louisvillecan.org

Extreme and in some cases, tragic weather conditions over the holidays are sure to prompt more discussion about climate change.  Sarah Lynn Cunningham, director of the Louisville Climate Action Network, says recent conditions do not fall into a normal climate pattern.  She says any measures to reduce pollutants could carry long term weather impacts.  “Greenhouse gases, once they’re in the atmosphere, are gonna warm the earth for a while, sometimes a long while,” Cunningham said.  “But anything we do now is gonna be making things a whole lot less worse than they’re gonna be if we keep tryin

Unseasonably Warm Winter Likely Beyond Christmas

Dec 22, 2015
accesswdun.com

The unseasonably warm Christmas week weather may be only a sign of things to come in 2016.  University of Kentucky Agricultural Meteorologist Matt Dixon says longer term projections, even into February, call for higher than normal temperatures.  He says that would differ greatly from a year ago.  “Outlooks are pointing toward a warm start to 2016 and that would be almost the direct opposite of what we’ve had the last two years,” Dixon said. “Definitely be a break from those minus 20’s we saw last year.”

Kentucky Legislative Research Commission

bill pre-filed in the General Assembly would declare Kentucky a “sanctuary state” for people and companies who don’t want to follow federal environmental laws that will restrict carbon dioxide emissions from power plants.

Kevin Goldy / The Daily Independent

A landfill in Eastern Kentucky will shrink after the company, state and citizens’ groups reached an agreement Tuesday.

The Big Run Landfill in Boyd County is Kentucky’s largest landfill, and the final repository of garbage and sewage from many East Coast states. In June, the Citizens of Boyd County Environmental Coalition filed a lawsuit against the company and the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet, arguing the measures that expanded the landfill a decade ago weren’t constitutional under the Kentucky Constitution.

lge-ku.com

In the final weeks of Gov. Steve Beshear’s administration, state regulators and legislators haven’t closed the door on the possibility that Kentucky will create its own plan to comply with upcoming federal carbon dioxide regulations.

Len Peters, secretary of the Energy and Environment Cabinet, spoke Tuesday before a special legislative task force made up of lawmakers and industry representatives.

Courtesy of Energy and Environment Cabinet

The Secretary of Kentucky’s Energy and Environment Cabinet has officially submitted his resignation to Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear. Secretary Len Peters’ last day in his position will be Dec. 7, which is also Beshear’s last day in office.

Peters’ resignation isn’t a surprise; as the head of a cabinet, his position is one that is typically appointed by the governor.

Although Governor-elect Matt Bevin, a Republican, hasn’t yet announced who he will choose to lead the Energy and Environment Cabinet, Peters included a farewell letter in the October issue of the cabinet’s magazine (which was published before the election) indicating he was planning on resigning no matter who took office.

Peters has led the cabinet since 2008. He’s a chemical engineer by training, and before working in state government he led the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. He’s also held academic and administrative positions at the University of Kentucky and Virginia Tech.

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