Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

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March 13, 2010

Officials hope Cooksey work will cut pollution, end fire hazard

Cannonsburg — An agreement four years in the making has led to work at the former Cooksey Brothers Landfill, which regulators say will reduce pollution and end a long-standing fire hazard at the site.

The planned improvements are also aimed at cultivating a source of methane production, proceeds of which could be used to further close the site, according to owners.

Landfill owner Doug Smith entered into an agreed order in November with the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet’s Division of Waste Management and Indian Harbor Insurance Co. to spend $1.8 million to close the site.

The work will be paid for using the remaining funds in the landfill’s insurance policy. A more complete closure plan for the landfill was completed by Nesbitt Engineering Inc. but that plan would cost an estimated $8 million, according to Smith and Anthony Hatton, director of waste management division.

There simply wasn’t any money to complete that plan.

“What we have decided to do is identify those aspects of the site that are more environmentally pressing issues and address those in that order,” said Hatton. Mitigating the fire hazard of unused tires and treating leachate from the site are the top two priorities, he said.

The agreed order is the result of years of failed negotiations and disagreements between the state, Smith and the insurance company following a fire at the site in January 2006.

The fire, which burned for several days before teams from the Environmental Protection Agency were able to extinguish it, is believed to have been started by lightning. Mounds of shredded tires, which were used to cover garbage at the landfill because the site lacked adequate dirt, fueled the fire.

The tires were approved as an alternate daily cover by the waste management division, in what some former regulators and Smith have called “a bad decision.”

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