Closure of channel to creek OK'd

Friday, October 31, 2008

Tennessee's Department of Environment and Conservation has granted Waste Management's request to bury trash across a gully that drains water to East Fork Globe Creek.

"The authorized work eliminates the tributary in its entirety," according to the Aquatic Resource Alteration Permit (ARAP) issued by TDEC's Division of Water Pollution Control.

"It's just the next step in the process," Waste Management Landfill Develpment Director Glenn Youngblood said Tuesday night. "We had to get that before we could get the Solid Waste Permit, but it couldn't go forward without a local approval."

The "process" is toward obtaining a permit to expand Cedar Ridge Landfill so trash may be buried on Waste Management property where there's a sinkhole and a channel for water flows from rain and/or a seep of water.

Young-cblood's comment illustrates the layers of regulations faced by landfill companies. TDEC's Solid Waste Division is awaiting a decision from Lewisburg's Council on whether the city will permit expansion.

"It can't go forward without local approval," Youngblood said while waiting for a City Council meeting to begin on Tuesday night.

The Council voted 3-1 to set 6 p.m. on Nov. 17 in City Hall as the time and place for a public hearing on whether landfill expansion plans meet state standards for such operations.

The state permit issued by TDEC Natural Resources Section Manager Dan Eager on Oct. 22 came with conditions.

There's a 30-day period during which an appeal may be filed.

"Construction that alters this tributary shall not begin unless Waste Management Inc. of Tennessee has also been granted the required permits from the Division of Solid and Hazardous Waste Management to expand its operation" to this part of Cedar Ridge Landfill, Eager wrote in conjunction with Water Pollution Control Division Director Paul Davis.

As proposed by Waste Management, steps will be taken to protect approximately 1,650 feet of East Fork Globe Creek and that area to filter ground water flowing to the creek shall be protected with a restriction against use of that land for any other purpose.

The "riparian buffer" is to be fenced in to protect it from livestock getting on that land and getting into the river, according to the ARAP's "special conditions."

Seven "general conditions" put Waste Management on notice about specified protections for endangered species and against violations of water quality criteria.

As part of TDEC's examination of Waste Management's request, Robert Baker of the Division of Water Pollution Control conducted a public hearing in Lewisburg Middle School's auditorium on Aug. 28. A public comment period continued for more than a week and Baker has summarized 10 comments and provided a departmental response to explain the department's determination that the ARAP should be issued.

The tributary does not appreciably contribute water flow to rechage a spring that flows to East Fork Globe Creek, contrary to a comment submitted to TDEC, according to on of the Division's responses.

Waste Managements proposed riparian buffer adequately offsets the loss of an aquatic resource that would be lost with the proposal to fill the area over the drainage gully, according to another response from TDEC.

A complainant said TDEC's notice about the permit request to deposit trash where water drains stated impacts "cannot be avoided because it is located in the middle of the most feasible expansion area." TDEC agreed with the comment and said alteration of the tributary can't begin until the company has a permit from the Solid Waste Division allowing expansion of landfilling operations.

"The designation of the wet weather conveyances ...(on a map do)... not appear to be based on a comprehensive evaluation," according to TDEC's summary of another comment. Since the department's field visit on June 27, 2007 was during drought, there's no way to determine whether there's a stream or a wet weather conveyance. TDEC's Division determined that the "watercourse" was not a stream that had or wold sustain water flows other than in response to rain.

TDEC's Notice of Determination is available at the Department's Internet website.