Landfill hearing set for Dec. 7

Friday, November 12, 2010

With nearly a month to go before a state panel considers a request for expansion of Cedar Ridge Landfill, several Marshall County leaders toured the facility and the owners have asked Maury County for a favor.

The Tennessee Solid Waste Disposal Control Board is scheduled to meet on Dec. 7 in Nashville where Waste Management Inc. is appealing state Environment Commissioner Jim Fyke's refusal to permit trash to be dumped on a sinkhole the company would plug.

"I wouldn't be surprised to find out that they hear everything and decide to decide at another meeting," Morgan Thomas, director of the county's Solid Waste Department, said of the latest juncture in a long-standing issue that affects trash service in this and other counties.

The request started nearly four years ago and cleared an early hurdle when a just-elected county commission concluded the expansion plans meet state criteria to protect the environment. New commissioners were elected in August and the chairman of the county's Solid Waste Committee is Anna Childress, a commissioner who's returned to the panel after several years off the board.

Her committee toured Cedar Ridge Landfill last month and Robert Cheney, business development director for Waste Management, says his visitors "were surprised at how small Cell 7 is in terms of acreage."

Cell 7 has a sinkhole. During their tour, commissioners saw tanks that hold leachate, the liquid draining from garbage and collected for removal. They saw Cedar Ridge's blue flame "flair" that's burning off methane gas created by decomposing garbage. And they saw the old Coble property bought by the company to obtain dirt for daily cover of the garbage.

"It was very clean and neat," Childress said of the landfill; "even the place where they dump the trash. They cover it up...

"You could do star parties there" at the landfill, Childress said, reflecting her interest in astronomy and apparently Cedar Ridge's altitude and location away from city lights.

And so as Waste Management's attorney, John Williams, who drafted the landfill contract between his employer and Marshall County, and David Henry, the attorney representing the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, prepare to face off on Pearl Harbor Day, the landfill company has submitted a request to neighboring Maury County.

"We asked for an extension on the hours of the transfer stations," Cheney said.

Maury County residents may take their trash to convenience centers which are unaffected by the landfill company's request. Trash is hauled from convenience centers to transfer stations. From there, it goes to a landfill.

"We are diverting the waste stream away from Cedar Ridge, knowing there's limited air space," Cheney said.

Transfer stations in Maury County operate 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., now. Waste Management wants two more hours in the afternoon to pickup the transfer loads.

"We're offering to reimburse the county for additional time," he said. "It's a change to the current agreement, so it has to go to committee and the commission" in Maury County.