Landfill will have limited reopening in 60 days

Friday, September 2, 2011

Now that the state has issued a permit for Waste Management Inc. to use eight more acres at Cedar Ridge Landfill for burial of trash, it would appear that deliveries may resume at the facility on the north side of Mooresville Pike.

Limited deliveries will be accepted starting some 60 days from now, but "Marshall County wastes from the convenience centers will have first priority ... over any other wastes," according to Robert Cheney, Waste Management's director of business development in Tennessee and two other states.

That means Waste Management will, this fall, resume payment of tipping fees to Marshall County, "with the exception that there are no fees paid on convenience center wastes," Cheney said, describing "the amounts" paid as tipping fees as "minimal...

"I really don't know how much volume we are going to be accepting," he said of deliveries from businesses that would prefer to avoid longer trips to transfer stations in Giles or Maury counties.

Marshall County "can expect 50 to 60-cents-per-ton delivered," he said in an exchange of e-mails Wednesday night. Regular business is expected to resume in April 2012.

Tipping fees from Cedar Ridge Landfill were the sole source of revenue for the county's Solid Waste Department led by Morgan Thomas who, in recent years, has developed an aggressive recycling program for businesses and he's helped Lewisburg develop its curbside collection service. Recyclable plastic, paper and metal are sorted at the department's Quonset hut behind the county's Hardison Office Annex. The sale of those recyclables has, since December, become the significant revenue stream for the department.

Also since December, company spokeswoman Terri Douglas said Wednesday night, "The temporary closure forced lay-offs at (the landfill) and we are hopeful to regain our employee staffing once we are open for business."

Cheney emphasized, "Within the next 60 days, we will begin accepting limited amounts of waste at the current Cell 6" part of Cedar Ridge Landfill, next to Cell 7, the area with a sinkhole that's to be covered.

"The Marshall County convenience center waste, that is now being hauled to and disposed at Camden via Maury County's Transfer Station, will be redirected back to Cedar Ridge," Cheney said. "Cedar Ridge has been covering the increased cost of hauling and disposing of the convenience centers since temporary closure in December of 2010."

Meanwhile Douglas said, "During the temporary closure, we will begin the construction phase, however, weather is a factor that can cause construction delays. The active area of the landfill prior to the temporary closure will be accepting limited amounts of solid waste while cell 7 is under construction. Cell 7 and the existing landfill will eventually join and fill-in at the same time."

All of this is possible because of a 5-2 vote by the Tennessee Solid Waste Disposal Control Board on Monday afternoon.

"After the ... board's decision to approve the Agreed Order (between the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation and Waste Management on what must happen before the permit is issued) the department (TDEC) was granted authority to issue the permit," according to TDEC spokeswoman Meg Lockhart. "After TDEC presented the proposed permit for Cedar Ridge Landfill (Phase 7) to the board and to the public, the board made no changes. The department issued the permit after the conclusion of Monday's Board meeting.

"Waste Management must meet the terms and conditions of the permit," she continued. "The first steps will include visiting the Phase 7 portion of the landfill as it is constructed to ensure the disposal cell is constructed properly. This will include a site walkover once grading is completed to see if there are any soft spots in the disposal area that need to be repaired before construction of the waste disposal cell."

Expansion of Cedar Ridge Landfill has been a goal for Waste Management for nearly five years. The request for an expansion permit was denied by TDEC's immediate past commissioner, but still during the administration of Gov. Phil Bredesen, the department was considering methods to get more monitorable compliance from Waste Management to safeguard ground water resources.

To that end, "TDEC and Cedar Ridge Landfill, Inc. signed a Memorandum of Understanding requiring the landfill to conduct further site work in the area of Phase 7," Lockhart said. "The Department reserved the right to continue its denial of the permit application if Cedar Ridge could not prove the Phase 7 area was geologically stable and that the waste disposal cell in Phase 7 could be effectively monitored for releases into ground water.

"Cedar Ridge produced data that demonstrated the waste disposal cell could be constructed following the requirements of the Solid Waste Management Act," she said. "Only after we received data demonstrating that Phase 7 could be successfully constructed, did the department develop a proposed Agreed Order and proposed Landfill permit modification for the board's consideration."

The board's action Monday was an approval of the Agreed Order, which allowed TDEC to issue the approval of the Cedar Ridge Landfill permit modification, she said.

Since there has been a citizens group opposing expansion of the landfill, Lockhart was asked if the department's officials were aware of more litigation that might appeal the board's decision.

"Parties who oppose the construction of Phase 7 could go to (Davidson County) Chancery Court and ask the court to stop construction of the landfill until an appeal is heard," Lockhart said.

Kathy Fox, an early organizer of the Tri County Environmental Association - formed to oppose plans for a landfill at Cornersville, was asked for a comment about what happened Monday.

"Our organization learned a very important lesson at the hearing on Monday," Fox replied in an e-mail. "We are not going to get any protection from the state when it comes to environmental matters at Cedar Ridge. Our only alternative is to seek protection at the federal level. We plan to do just that. We will move forward with our federal suit."

Opponents of the landfill have sued Waste Management in U.S. District Court at Nashville alleging that it has failed to abide by federal environmental laws as it's managed Cedar Ridge.