HERALD-LEADER FRANKFORT BUREAU
HILLSBORO — Gov. Steve Beshear and state environmental officials marked the final phase of the closure of the Maxey Flats nuclear disposal facility along the Rowan-Fleming County border Wednesday, thanks to $35.2 million in funding requested by Beshear and approved by state legislators last year.
The money means the state Energy and Environment Cabinet can finally cap the site, which was a commercial disposal dump for radioactive waste from 1962 to 1977
“In the 35 years since the Commonwealth purchased this site, state agencies have been working with the federal Environmental Protection Agency to ensure proper closure and long-term care of this site,” said Beshear. “Now, with the proper funding mechanisms in place, we can hire contractors to begin the final capping process. This will serve to significantly safeguard the Maxey Flats site for both workers and the public.”
The Superfund Branch of the Energy and Environment Cabinet’s Division of Waste Management has had primary oversight of the previous remediation measures that have allowed the site to be safely brought to the point of final closure, said state Energy Secretary Len Peters.
“Now we are ready for the final closure plan which will include installation of a permanent vegetative cap, installation of permanent surface water control features and installation of surface monuments to identify concerns and location of buried waste,” said Peters. “Once the final closure period is completed, the cabinet and its agencies will enter into an institutional control period of 100 years which will include continued monitoring, maintenance and facility control.”
The funding sources for the project include $18 million from the Capital and Emergency trust accounts and an additional $17 million in approved bonding.
“The General Assembly has long recognized the importance of Kentucky’s role in making certain the public is protected from the leaching of materials from this site,” said state Rep. Mike Denham, D-Maysville. “Making sure the project is adequately funded is a key factor in bringing closure to this environmental hazard.”
Sen. Walter Blevins, D-Morehead, said, “I am very pleased with the oversight our state agencies have provided and I am confident their continued work will help keep the public safe.”
With the funding allocation announced by Beshear, the state can begin the initial phases of the closure plan, which includes the purchase of property that will allow for the increased distance between the restricted areas of the site and the public, and reduce potential for public exposure.
Other notable milestones to occur include the submission of a preliminary remedial design to EPA, soliciting bids and the awarding of contracts for construction. Cap construction is scheduled to begin in 2014, with cap placement complete in 2016.