They were here to research the subject because their county in Canada is the prospective site for a landfill to be developed by Waste Management Inc.
Waste Management wants to build a landfill on 800 acres with 340 acres used for the disposal area near Edmonton, Alberta. In contrast, Cedar Ridge has 287 acres with deposits on about 87 acres, and possibly 11 more if Tennessee officials authorize an expansion.
The proposed landfill in Thorhill County would be built under current government regulations to protect the environment. Cedar Ridge has a "legacy" as a result of previous owners who started the landfill here before clay and then manmade fabric liners were required. What's planned in Alberta might be more comparable to what was planned at Cornersville.
Waste Management's cancellation of Cedar Ridge's acceptance of processed sludge from wastewater treatment plants was explained to five Canadian visitors on Thursday by Glen Youngblood, area director for Waste Management's office in Franklin.
"We made a business decision" to accept sludge cake, Youngblood said frankly to the visitors, "and it was a poor decision. It started in April and I guess it took us until November to come to our senses."
Lewisburg area residents may recall the odor.
"It just stank," Youngblood said of the odor that came with the trucks hauling the waste.
Landfill spokeswoman Terri Douglas said, "Our neighbors called us."
"So," asked Lorne Skuba of Abee, Alberta, five miles from the proposed site, "you responded?"
"Absolutely," Douglas said.
Nashville officials, Youngblood said, had to be told that the contract wouldn't continue.
Cam Hantiuk, spokesman for Waste Management in Western Canada, said the four residents of Thorhill County near Edmonton also visited Spruce Ridge Landfill near Minneapolis, Minn., "about the same distance out... as Cedar Ridge is from Nashville."
Hantiuk said Spruce Ridge was being "capped" during the tour last week. Douglas said rain flaps were being placed over broad areas of Cedar Ridge to prevent erosion by stormwater.
Hantiuk drove his minivan passengers "right by Cedar Ridge," he said, "and I had to point out that we'd just passed it.
"We try to blend into the landscape," he said.
Betty Kolewaski, chairwoman of the Concerned Citizens of Thorhill County, was on the tour and said the proposed site for the landfill in Alberta is flat.
Asked about what Waste Management might pay Thorhill County for operating there, Hantiuk said, "The host fee in Thorhill is still being negotiated.
"It's difficult to place a value on it because there are other services to be provided," he explained. "No matter how much comes in they continue to get a flat fee... plus royalties."
Other issues include proposed transfer stations and suggestions that the company operate them, he said.
A flat fee royalty will be paid annually, he said. It's $500,000 in Canadian dollars which are currently worth 95-cents to each U.S. dollar.
"We're looking at about 500 tons a year" to be deposited, Hantiuk said.
The per-ton fee hasn't been finalized, Hantiuk said. It's ranging from 52-cents to $1.25 per ton. There would also be free disposal for the residents of Thorhill County. Its population is less than 3,500 people. The county might expect to receive $800,000 to $1 million a year to come from the company.
Before the visit, Kolewaski said the economy of Thorhill County is mostly beef cattle and dairy herds, not unlike much of Marshall County that has nearly 10 times the population of Thorhill. That county does not need a landfill for its own wastes, Kolewaski said. It's going to be serving Edmonton.