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Boyd County Landfill Agrees To Scale Back Following Residents' Complaints

Boyd_County_Courthouse_Kentucky
Tim Kiser/Wikimedia Commons
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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 county, 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.

“It’s the large amounts of waste being shipped down here from New York and New Jersey, traveling enormous amounts of time to get here and then put at the landfill that has caused such a serious problem in our area and our community,” said CBCEC board member Sean Borst, who lives seven miles from Big Run. “And the stench. I mean, it is what it is. It’s a serious smell.”

Now,under the agreement, Big Run will transition from a mega-landfill to a regional one, just accepting waste from Boyd and nearby counties. Trains will stop bringing trash to the landfill by next June and certain segments of the dump will be closed by September.

The company will also install fence line air monitoring at the site, and install a system to collect methane from the landfill and convert it to electricity.

Boyd County Judge-Executive Steve Towler said the agreement will hopefully address the environmental and odor problems, but still keep some of the landfill’s contributions to the local economy.

“That is the goal,” he said. “The problems are going away, we’ve maintained some jobs. A lot of our citizens expressed very strongly they wanted to keep the landfill. We’ve tried to respond to all of the concerns and yet maintain some semblance of a smaller landfill in Boyd County.”

Lanny Brannock spokesman for the Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection, said in a statement that the Agreed Order is the outcome of lengthy negotiations between all the parties.

“A primary goal of the negotiations is to take both administrative and operational steps at the landfill to substantially reduce the impact on the community resulting from odors emanating from the landfill,” he wrote.

Calls to representatives of the company that operates the landfill weren’t returned Tuesday afternoon.

This article has been corrected to reflect that the original lawsuit included Boyd County as a defendant.

(Featured image of the Boyd County Courthouse via Tim Kiser/Wikimedia Commons)

Erica Peterson is WFPL's Director of News and Programming.