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Energy and Environment Cabinet

Division of Waste Management
Maxey Flats Project


The Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection initiated a Request for Proposal with the Kentucky Finance and Administration Cabinet to contract with an engineering firm to design the final cap for the Maxey Flats Project. The deadline for the submittal of proposals has passed. The department, in cooperation with the Kentucky Division of Waste Management, will utilize the Commonwealth’s procurement process to select the winning firm, tentatively by January 2013. Interested parties may find the open house presentation helpful.


 Maxey Flats Projects Documents

expand Document Type : Annual and Semi-Annual Reports ‎(19)
expand Document Type : EPA Five-Year Reviews ‎(2)
expand Document Type : Historic NPL Documents ‎(7)
expand Document Type : Initial Remedial Phase (IRP) Action Construction Reports ‎(2)

he United States has been disposing of low-level nuclear waste in shallow land burial facilities since the early 1960s. A total of six commercial low-level radioactive waste disposal facilities have operated in the U.S. with only two remaining in operation today. One of the four that is no longer in operation is the Maxey Flats Disposal Facility, currently known as the Maxey Flats Project (MFP). The MFP is located in northeastern Kentucky on the southern border of Fleming County approximately nine miles northwest of the city of Morehead.


The MFP consists of the original 280 acres and approximately 550 acres of buffer zone area. The restricted area consists of approximately 60 acres of which more than 55 are covered with a geomembrane liner.

Early History
From 1963 to 1977, the C
ommonwealth of Kentucky, under authorities granted by the U.S. government, licensed private operators to dispose of low-level radioactive wastes from military ships and facilities, hospitals, universities, corporations, etc., at the MFP.  During commercial operation, an estimated 4.7 million cubic feet of material were disposed that contained approximately 242,000 kilograms of source material (consisting of uranium and thorium or ores containing them), 2.4 million curies of byproduct materials, and 431 kilograms of special nuclear material (plutonium and enriched uranium). To assure proper closure and management, the Commonwealth has maintained the site since the time commercial operations were discontinued.
 Aerial view of Maxey Flats in the 1970s

Cleanup Progress
The remedial investigation and feasibility study was conducted from March 1987 through September 1991 under an Administrative Order by Consent. The record of decision was issued in September 1991. Meanwhile, between December 1988 and November 1989, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Emergency Response solidified 286,000 gallons of tanked leachate (radioactive contaminated trench water) because of significant leakage from the metal tanks; then from March 1991 to September 1992 EPA Emergency Response disposed of the solidified leachate blocks in an underground on-site trench and installed 30 acres of a temporary above-ground plastic, impermeable liner to prevent infiltration of rain into the waste trenches. 

After lengthy negotiations lasting from June 1992 until June 1995, two consent decrees (one for the 50 de maximis parties and one for the 306 de minimis parties) arranged for cost allocation and for the performance of the remedial design (RD) and remedial action. After the required public comment periods, the U.S. District Court activated the decrees in April 1996; the RD for the first of two major cleanup phases (1. Leachate removal and disposal and 2. Building demolition, on-site disposal, and other items) began immediately thereafter.

Aerial View of Maxey Flats Project in 2003.   

Construction of Phase I and Phase II of the reinforced concrete bunkers (for disposal of solidified radioactive leachate and other contaminated materials) has been completed. Approximately 750,000 gallons of leachate were removed from within the landfill since current dewatering operations began in September 1998. Landfill dewatering operations were discontinued during early fall 2000.

Construction of an interim cap to prevent water infiltration with a perimeter drainage system that includes the groundwater interceptor channel has been completed.  To verify the drainage system does not negatively impact erosion rates, erosion monuments have been installed for monitoring the rate of erosion.

The completion of the Initial Remedial Phase was declared in October 2003 by EPA. This initiated the Interim Maintenance Period of operation that will be observed until stabilization data indicates MFP is ready for installation of a Final Cap. This next period of operation will be called the Final Closure Period.

Remedial work completed at the Maxey Flats Waste Disposal Site has been under the guidance of the EPA Region IV headquartered in Atlanta, Ga., and has been completed in accordance with the consent decree signed in 1996.  International Technology Corporation and Shaw Environmental Group performed the remedial construction.

Commonwealth Obligations

The Commonwealth is obligated to control access, conduct environmental monitoring and provide site maintenance and monitoring. This is accomplished by a series of U.S. EPA-approved work plans. These work plans include:

Interim Maintenance Plan (IMP)

Establishes the initial procedures that may be used to conduct oversight of the MFP subsequent to Certification of Completion of the Initial Remedial Phase by the EPA.
Performance  Standard Verification Plan Provides a program for long-term monitoring that does not rely on data from a single collection event. 
Quality Assurance Project Plan Provides the quality assurance measures that will be implemented to ensure the precision and accuracy of data. This data will be routinely assessed and reported for all environmental monitoring and measurement data.
Health and Safety Plan Provides for health and safety of the environment and workers, thus mitigating adverse or potential impacts on public health and safety.  

Operation and Maintenance Summary

Identifies the tasks the Commonwealth should perform during the IMP. It also provides details for the activities needed to maintain elements of the Initial Remedial Phase Remedial Action upon issuance of the Certificate of Completion.
Commonwealth Monitoring and Maintenance The Commonwealth will also be obligated to periodically replace the impermeable cap and any other site structures that deteriorate over time. Upon verification that the ground surface has fully settled, an elaborate final cap will be constructed. Monitoring and maintenance will then continue into perpetuity.