Mayor vetoes request to expand Cedar Ridge

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Marshall County Mayor Joe Boyd Liggett has vetoed the county commission's 11-7 vote to permit 11 more acres at Cedar Ridge Landfill and the decision is to be reconsidered May 29.

In a related development on Monday, five days after Liggett's veto, a truck hauling a trash container from the landfill leaked rain water mixed with ashes from a Shelbyville factory. Mooresville Highway was reduced to one lane for eight hours during the cleanup between the landfill and Duncanville Cemetery.

The spill close to the main entrance of the landfill posed no public health threat, according to the county's emergency management director, Bob Hopkins, but if it wasn't removed from the road, he believes it may have threatened vehicle paint.

Acknowledging the timing was bad for Waste Management, District Manager James Ashburn said, "With all the attention on the expansion, we went above and beyond" what was needed to deal with the spill. Waste Management Hauling Co. Site Manager Dale Calwell said Hepaco, an environmental cleanup service in Nashville, was called in to deal with the spill.

Meanwhile, Liggett cites "Water Quality Impacts from Cedar Ridge Landfill to East Fork Globe Creek in Marshall County," a report from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, as his reason to veto commissioners' approval of the landfill expansion request.

"Waste Management is disappointed that Mayor Liggett vetoed the expansion resolution and did not support a majority vote by commissioners," Cedar Ridge Landfill Community Relations Manager Terri L. Douglas said Tuesday.

"Reasons given in the mayor's memo are not valid," Douglas said.

Commissioner Larry McKnight obtained much of the TDEC information early and told commissioners just before they voted on April 23 that he believes the landfill is polluting creek waters.

Waste Management has replied it's dealing with problems that began before it bought the landfill.

Waste Management sought the report Liggett said, indicating it was an attempt to see if the stream could be removed from the state's list. Meanwhile, the report is restricted to the condition of the creeks, and "not what's happening in the landfill," Liggett said.

"The levels [of pollution] were higher than I expected," the mayor said. The report "pretty much substantiates" what McKnight reported to the commission.

Waste Management officials dispute that and Liggett repeated his belief that commissioners must get an explanation of the report from the state.

Commissioner Scott Porch contends the commission didn't have adequate time to study all the information. Porch advocated a delay of the April 23 vote. Commissioners proceeded in the belief they had to act that night.

"The timeframe," Douglas said yesterday, "as established by …… [state law] was followed. The report from Water Pollution Control does not contain any new information. As far as meeting with TDEC, some of the commissioners have already met with them.

"Waste Management will……," Douglas said, "continue to work with TDEC to achieve our objective to be removed from the …… list" of waterways that are impacted by pollutants.

The state lists many waterways across Tennessee as having various levels of pollution. A chief concern is whether a stream can be used by people for fishing, swimming or other activities.

Liggett's veto memo ends with his observation that some commissioners want TDEC officials to be available to answer questions about the landfill.

Concerns for creeks near the landfill are different from the spill on Monday. Alchem of Shelbyville is a Waste Management customer. It uses open containers for waste taken from its plant that has a furnace, Colwell said.

Ash was deposited in the landfill last week, he said. Rain fell in the roll-off bin, so-called because they roll off a truck that takes them to factories. Ashburn said the bin for Alchem was taken back before dawn on Monday and water in the bin "sloshed" on the road at about 5:45 a.m. Monday.

Cleanup was started in about two hours and finished by about 4 p.m.

Colwell said he called Hepaco because "I wanted to err on the side of caution."