TDEC nixes landfill expansion

Friday, December 18, 2009 ~ Updated 8:11 AM

The commissioner of Tennessee's Department of Environment and Conservation intends to deny Waste Management's request for permission to expand trash burial operations at Cedar Ridge Landfill.

Waste Management is "disappointed ... (and) disagrees with TDEC's decision," company spokeswoman Terri Douglas said Thursday. Waste Management will continue to seek expansion. Plans for that are based on good engineering to protect the environment.

However, Commissioner Jim Fyke "has made a tentative decision that the applicant has failed" to show that plans to cap a sinkhole at Cedar Ridge would protect ground water, according to a state notice issued by Mike Apple, director of TDEC's Division of Solid Waste.

A public comment period starts on Wednesday, Dec. 23, and continues through Monday, Feb. 8, 2010, TDEC spokeswoman Meg Lockhart said, explaining that 45 days are required, but a few more days are allowed for this comment period.

The comment period gives the company, the public and local governments time to support or refute Fyke's intention to deny an application by Waste Management to expand landfill operations at Cedar Ridge.

After the 45-day period, comments will be reviewed and applied when Fyke either finalizes his tentative decision to deny the expansion permit, or reverses that position because of new information.

Expansion of Cedar Ridge Landfill has been a contentious issue across Marshall County for about three years.

Waste Management's application "failed to demonstrate" three things, according to Fyke's tentative decision. They led him to conclude that Waste Management shouldn't be allowed to use 11 acres at the landfill where trash hasn't been buried yet.

Fyke raised concerns that:

* There is a potential for surface collapse;

* Underwater streams could erode caves, leading to collapse, and/or be polluted by soiled water seeping from the landfill; and,

* A landfill in that area with caves will lead to pollution of ground water resources.

Furthermore, Fyke hasn't been persuaded that the proposed expansion meets general facility standards to minimize release of trash and/or other potentially harmful materials to the environment, according to the notice issued by Apple.

An extensive public notice on this subject, including a map of the landfill area, is to be published in the Marshall County Tribune's next edition, Wednesday, Dec. 23, according to Apple. More than 40 pages of Fyke's tentative decision have been provided to County Mayor Joe Boyd Liggett and Lewisburg Mayor Barbara Woods.

A "summary of major releases from Cedar Ridge Landfill" is included in the document. It lists five orders and a notice of violation - all about pollution: April 10, 2000, industrial waste pollution causing a fish kill in Globe Creek; May 23, 2002, sediment discharge polluting the creek through Vickery Spring; May 7, 2007, discharging wastes to waters of the state; June 25, 2007, discharge of sediment to Vickery Spring through a sink hole; Sept. 11, 2009, discharging sediments; and Nov. 24, 2009, allowing pollution of Vickery Creek through its spring as realized last summer.