Expansion construction is starting this summer

Friday, May 11, 2012

By Clint Confehr

Senior Staff Writer

Waste Management Inc. is reaching out to several contractors about their price and availability to expand Cedar Ridge Landfill, as well as finalize plans to control the flow of pollutants oozing from the earth on property the landfill company just bought.

"Our goal is to entirely mitigate it and eliminate the threat to the creek (East Fork Globe Creek) from the seep," Waste Management Business Development Chief Richard Cheney said. "We came to the conclusion, along with Tennessee, that the contaminants were the company's responsibility ... Because of the proximity of the stream, we've got to be very careful."

These are among the developments since a federal lawsuit was dismissed with prejudice last month as both parties are paying their own costs associated with the litigation that included allegations that the landfill was not run in compliance with environmental regulations. A significant aspect of the settlement was the purchase of 29 acres where pollutants were seeping from the ground.

"So, they're getting blamed for it and now they want to clean it up? Is that it?" Lewisburg Mayor Barbara Woods said Saturday when asked about her reaction to the court settlement. "I'm asking."

Settlement of the federal suit allows Waste Management to use a state permit to bury trash on previously unused property that the company has owned for years. The new "cell" where trash will be buried is a low area surrounded on three sides by a horseshoe-shaped ridge. That part of Cedar Ridge must be prepared by following state-approved plans for the landfill expansion that's expected to receive deliveries for nearly six years, depending on volume and the passage of time.

"Typically, we have three or four firms with a history of building landfills," Cheney explained last week when local leaders spoke about the end of the court case. "It's a very specialized type of construction," Cheney said of how man-made fabric must be placed to line the bottom of where garbage is buried.

As federal Clean Water Act requirements have been amended, liners are a specialized fabric now. Previously landfills were lined with clay. The liners are to collect liquids that are dumped and buried at landfills. Beverages, juices and other liquids in household and business trash become what's called leachate and that liquid is to be collected and disposed of elsewhere.

However, liquids have been emerging from a place on the property just bought by Cedar Ridge Landfill Inc. That place has been dubbed the Garrett seep, so-named for the former owners of the land that adjoins the landfill property.

Waste Management has, for some time, wanted to get control of the land so it could deal with the seep, according to Cheney.

Marshall County Mayor Joe Boyd Liggett has seen the seep.

"It's nasty looking," Liggett said.

The seep is portrayed in a photograph in the files of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation.

"I think the picture is very accurate," the county mayor said of one shot showing a bright green-colored substance at the Garrett seep.

"It depends on the time of year ... for the flow, and the temperature," Liggett said. "Another time it might be another color ... a brighter or darker green."

Reacting to Waste Management's development of plans on how to remediate the seep, the mayor said, "I think everybody will feel better about that, or should, if they can get it to stop" seeping leachate and threatening water quality.