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The DOJ delivers the Comey memos to Congress. Also on our rundown: More evidence that rent prices are out of reach in many markets; Wisconsin counties brace for sulfide mining; and the Earth Day focus this weekend in North Dakota is on recycling.

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Troubling Questions Arise About Radioactive Frack Waste Company

The disposal of low-level radioactive waste derived from Marcellus and Utica shale in Kentucky landfills is raising red flags. (U.S. Dept. of Energy)
The disposal of low-level radioactive waste derived from Marcellus and Utica shale in Kentucky landfills is raising red flags. (U.S. Dept. of Energy)
July 7, 2016

CHARLESTON W.Va. - The paper trail of a company that dumped West Virginia radioactive frack waste into Kentucky landfills is raising serious questions. This spring, regulators cited Advanced TENORM Services for dumping the low-level radioactive waste in two municipal landfills. Not long after, the company disabled its website and moved its formal physical address to the West Liberty Public Library.

But Tom FitzGerald, director with the Kentucky Resources Council, said state records show Cory Hoskins, who runs the company, is also connected to at least one other firm involved in a similar situation at a separate state landfill.

"Cory Hoskins is also working in Ohio and has a couple of different company names," he said. "How much other stuff, these elevated levels of radionuclides, ended up in our landfills?"

Neither Hoskins nor Advanced TENORM Services has returned calls requesting comment. The Kentucky Attorney General's office is investigating.

TENORM is Technologically Enhanced Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials. In this case, a sludge that contains concentrated radium and uranium that occurs naturally in the Marcellus and Utica shales. One West Virginia company tested the waste, and decided not to take the contract to deal with it. FitzGerald said the cutoff line in Kentucky law is five picocuries per gram or radium, just a fraction of what the West Virginia waste company seems to have found.

"We know that the waste tested in West Virginia had elevated levels of radionuclides," he added. "If it came across the border with a concentration of more than five picocuries per gram, it violated Kentucky law."

By law, low-level radioactive waste has to go to specialized facilities, at as much as 10 times the cost of dumping it in a conventional landfill. Some in the waste-disposal industry argue that most TENORM is not that dangerous. But FitzGerald points out that landfill employees could face lung cancer from exposure to the radium.

"There's a number of workers out there who likely did not understand the nature of the material they were handling, and were exposed to elevated levels of radium 226, which is particularly a concern if it's inhaled," he said.

Dan Heyman, Public News Service - WV