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Ashland’s Big Run Landfill shuts down rail operation

By David E. Malloy
The Herald-Dispatch

COALTON, Ky. – The Big Run Landfill took in its last load of East Coast garbage and closed its rail yard on Tuesday, a move that will lead to the layoff of about 50 employees.
As part of an agreed order among county, state and industry officials, Big Run stopped taking in garbage from New Jersey and New York brought by rail into the 1,600-acre landfill between U.S. 60 and Interstate 64 two months ahead of schedule.
“We’ve been working hard to get this done,” said Dean Kattler, chief executive officer for EnviroSolutions, which owns the landfill. “We’ve sold our New Jersey assets. We didn’t want to wait until the last minute.”

The last train to bring solid waste to the Kentucky landfill left the rail yard Tuesday and a gate placed across the Sycamore Trail Transfer Station tracks.
“I’m glad to see the trains go,” said Brad Maggard, a Cannonsburg area resident. “But I feel sorry for the next area to get them. No one should be subjected to the problems created by waste via rail.”
“My biggest hope is that our residents can enjoy their outsides and their barbecues without the odor from the rail cars this summer,” said Sean Borst, of the Boyd County Environmental Coalition, a landfill opponent.
“The large amount of waste coming in via rail was a significant problem in our community,” Borst said. “There are still many items that need to be completed over the next year under the agreed order of judgment. The next milestone will be the final capping of the old landfill by September 2016.”
“Our community suffered under the nuisance of the rail waste shipments for far too long,” said Steve Cole, a coalition member. “The ending of the rail waste shipments was not voluntary by the landfill, but required that the citizens of Boyd County seek the cessation via a lawsuit. I applaud the citizens of Boyd County for their determination, resolve and their continuing efforts to restore the quality of life that the landfill has taken away from so many people.”
The landfill will continue to serve communities within a 75-mile radius with the 20 to 25 remaining workers. The company is seeking a new, five-year operating permit from the Division of Waste Management in Frankfort. The existing permit expires May 16.
Closing the rail yard that allowed the landfill to receive solid waste via rail was a priority, said Boyd County Judge-Executive Steve Towler.

The company initially wanted to keep the rail operations going through 2016 before agreeing to stop rail operations by July 1.
“The sooner it’s closed, the better,” Towler said. “The odor problem gets worse when the weather turns warm. We’ve had some 80-degree days, so we’re elated the rail yard is closing.
“Many of the complaints we felt were from the rail cars,” Towler said. “The trains were going through residential areas. The odor problems have diminished. We regret the job losses.”
With waste now coming to the landfill via trucks, the county will see a big drop in the $1 million it received in tipping fees. The county gets $1 for every ton of waste dumped at the landfill while the state gets a $1.75 per ton fee.

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