Cedar Ridge Landfill cited again

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Tennessee's water pollution control director has issued another order and assessment against Waste Management, citing it for water pollution because of Cedar Ridge Landfill.

As the corporation has reported progress in eliminating pollution at Vickrey Spring south of the landfill's entrance, a civil penalty of up to $32,500 was imposed since Waste Management allegedly failed to prevent stormwater from washing sediment into East Fork Globe Creek and Vickrey Branch near the landfill.

Officials with Waste Management said they had not seen the state order by early Tuesday afternoon so they refrained from issuing a statement then, but indicated one would be forthcoming upon receipt of the order that focuses on sedimentation, an issue different from the pollution of Vickey Spring.

Sedimentation is among the most common forms of water pollution. It's dirt that muddies the water and settles on streambeds, frequently killing plants and animals. Soil erosion happens naturally, but when people disrupt more than an acre of natural ground cover for construction or other projects, then sediment controls are required.

In his order dated Aug. 12, Paul Davis, director of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation's Division of Water Pollution Control, alleged that the landfill company had a malfunctioning sediment control system "resulting in sediment-laden water being discharged" from and area including a standpipe that is for the settling of sediments from stormwater.

TDEC had issued a permit for the stormwater control system, Davis noted.

However, the standpipe "was not functioning properly and did not allow for adequate retention time and settling of collected stormwater," Davis states in his order to Waste Management.

Sedimentation had been observed and reported to TDEC's Columbia Field Office. It sent investigators who traced sedimentation for more than a mile, the order states.

Sedimentations of one to two inches deep were measured, the order states.

"These sediment deposits resulted in a condition of pollution to waters of the state," Davis wrote.

"Upon further investigation, the division noted gray sediment associated with runoff from a gravel site entrance, had also been deposited in an unnamed tributary.

Waste Management was notified of the violations on May 12. Three months later, on Aug. 12, TDEC's water pollution control director issued the order that starts with a directive for payment of $362.16 spent by the state to investigate.

Directors' orders typically have a schedule of civil penalties that increase as time progresses without action by the defendant and that's true in this case.

TDEC sent its order to Waste Management's registered agent, CT Corp. Systems in Knoxville, which, according to Waste Management Business Development Director Robert Cheney, had not received the order as of noon Tuesday.

The director's order issued last Wednesday focused on pollution by sedimentation and in similar situations the company has taken steps as permitted by law and the order.

Earlier this summer, Waste Management was also cited by an order from TDEC that's focused on pollution at Vickrey Spring because leachate, dirty liquids that seep through landfills, had leaded from a pipe and flowed into the spring.

"We anticipate seeking a show cause meeting which is part of the process for any penalties to be determined by the state," according to Ken Haldin, an Atlanta-based spokesman for Waste Management.

The company wants the state to review the situation and focus on all the particulars so a full discussion will clarify the circumstances.