Landfill appeal hearing delayed once again

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

NASHVILLE -- Waste Management Inc.'s appeal hearing -- challenging state environmental regulators' decision against expansion of Cedar Ridge Landfill -- was delayed Tuesday, apparently by more than three months.

"The second week in May seems to be the most likely time," Waste Management Attorney John P. Williams said Tuesday morning about when the Solid Waste Disposal Control Board might hold a hearing that is conducted like a trial.

Cedar Ridge Landfill, just west of Lewisburg, is nearly full. Waste Management asked for permission to use approximately 10 acres, which include a sinkhole that would be capped with concrete, for continued burial of household trash. Those 10 acres are surrounded by the landfill, but are not permitted for disposal of rubbish.

When Jim Fyke was commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, he denied Waste Management's expansion request. The company appealed last year. TDEC Commissioner Bob Martineau succeeded Fyke when Gov. Bill Haslam took office.

The hearing, first set for Dec. 7, was rescheduled for this week. Some anticipated a decision today.

However, during the past two months, it became increasingly clear that the hearing couldn't be conducted during a regularly scheduled meeting of the Solid Waste Disposal Control Board.

"The primary reason for continuing it is that TDEC attorney David Henry and I agree that it will take three days" to conduct the hearing, Williams explained. "And this (meeting Tuesday) was our first opportunity to go to the board to say 'We think it should be specially set.'"

Williams had a comparable case before the state Water Quality Control Board a few years ago "on a landfill in Nashville and it took the better part of four days" to complete the hearing, Waste Management's lawyer said.

Both sides have several witnesses, he said. Environmental protection is a primary issue for the hearing.

"We may know a verified time [for the hearing] by the end of the week," Williams said, explaining why no definite date could be set.

"They didn't have several members today" at the meting hall in Nashville, he said. "One [board member] called in by phone, so they barely had a quorum. [State staff] will poll the other members to see if that week in May is a convenient time and date for them to come to Nashville for the hearing."