ASHLAND A federal grand jury has indicted a West Liberty man accused of illegally importing radioactive sludge produced by a fracking site in north central West Virginia.
The jury sitting in Ashland indicted Cory David Hoskins, the former owner of Advanced TENORM Services LLC on five counts of mail fraud and 22 counts of violating the Hazardous Materials Transportation Act.
The federal government has charged Hoskins in connection with a series of shipments and payments between July 2015 and December 2015 for waste dumped in Estill County.
The indictment is just the latest in a case that has played out since West Virginia authorities alerted the Commonwealth about the dumping of TENORM waste in January 2016.
TENFORM (Technologically Enhanced Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material) is a by-product of fracking. According to the EPA, most oil and gas found inside the earth are actually on the sites of ancient oceans. The actual petroleum products are the remains of sea life that died millions of years ago.
The wastewater produced by a fracking operation may contain harmful materials like uranium, thorium, radium and lead, according to the EPA.
According to the federal indictment, Hoskins approached Fairmont Brine Processing in West Virginia in July 2015 about trucking the sludge to Kentucky. The feds allege Hoskins lied to Fairmont Brine about having U.S. DOT compliant trucks — those need special placards and certified drivers — and also having engineers, physicists and nuclear experts on staff.
He then told federal regulators and the trucking companies he hired out to run the radioactive rubbish that the waste wasn’t hazardous and therefore was exempt from any special regulations, according to the federal indictment.
Federal authorities even accuse Hoskins of intentionally approaching trucking outfits, including one in Ashland, that didn’t have the hazardous certifications in order to get a cheaper rate.
When the waste made it to a landfill in Irvine, the indictment sates Hoskins provided fudged paperwork showing the radioactive waste to be non-hazardous.
The 22 counts of violation of the hazardous materials act are for runs identified by federal authorities. The five fraud counts reflect payments that changed hands between Fairmont Brine and Advanced TENFORM.
In court filings in a bankruptcy proceeding, the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services alleged Hoskins also dumped radioactive waste in Greenup County as well.
At the end of 2016, the cabinet fined Hoskins $2.6 million personally and $2.6 million to his company for allegedly dumping 2.4 million pounds of TENORM waste in Kentucky. The radioactive material was generated not only from Fairmont Brine Processing in West Virginia, but also Cambrian Well Service, Nuverra Environmental Solutions and Greenhunter, all located in Ohio.
According to the Cabinet, state law prohibits the dumping of out-of-state radioactive waste in the Commonwealth.
The cabinet also fined a number of other companies in involved in the dumping, including L.R. Daniels of Ashland.
The total amount of fines added up to $8.19 million.
Court records show Hoskins and others appealed their fines to the cabinet, on the basis that he was not granted a hearing prior to their issuance.
The cabinet has been clear in court filings that the fines are punitive in nature.
Hoskins filed bankruptcy in 2017 — filings in U.S. Eastern Kentucky Bankruptcy Court show the bankruptcy of Advanced TENORM LLC has been closed, with nary a penny awarded to the Cabinet. His personal bankruptcy proceeding has been dismissed as well, in order for the courts to see how his administrative case plays out with the cabinet.
If the administrative proceeding determines Hoskins is still on the hook, the bankruptcy courts could award the money to the Commonwealth.
The feds are also asking for their money, too.
The federal government has filed a forfeiture allegation against Hoskins, requesting the $127,110 prosecutors claim he made from the five checks exchanged in the indictment.
If convicted on the fraud charges, Hoskins could face up to 20 years in prison and $250,000 on each count. The HAZ-MAT charges each carry up to five years in prison and $250,000 fines as well.
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