BREAKING: Landfill expansion approved

Monday, August 29, 2011 ~ Updated 4:24 PM

NASHVILLE -- The Tennessee Solid Waste Disposal Control Board on Monday afternoon cleared the way for expansion of Cedar Ridge Landfill just west of Lewisburg.

"If you approve the agreed order, the permit will be issued," David Henry, assistant general counsel for the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, told the board.

The landfill owned by Waste Management Inc. was denied an expansion permit by TDEC last year. Waste Management appealed the decision and was successful during a hearing that began Monday morning and continued into the afternoon.

After years of attempts to expand its permitted area for waste disposal, Cedar Ridge officials and TDEC reached a Memorandum of Understanding this summer.

"The MOU was a roadmap, not a permit" for expansion, Henry said. "It had to be completed before TDEC would consider issuing a permit."

Approval means that about eight acres on the landfill property -- an area that had not been authorized for burial of trash -- would apparently be where a concrete cap will be built over a sinkhole and then covered with a manmade fabric lining to prevent liquids from garbage seeping into ground water.

Dozens of Marshall County residents concerned about the expansion went to the hearing at TDEC headquarters in the L&C Tower.

"We didn't see a decision based on the evidence," said Marshall County Commissioner Don Ledford.

Ledford, the immediate past chairman of the county's Solid Waste Committee, and others have consistently questioned the stability of the rock formations around a sinkhole that must be capped before those eight acres can be used for trash disposal.

It was unclear early Monday afternoon if there will be a legal challenge to the expansion.