Landfill Expansion, Denied Under Bredesen, Gets Fresh Look Under Haslam

Waste Management Inc., told it could not expand a landfill near Lewisburg by state regulators under Gov. Phil Bredesen’s administration, has been told that it can expand under a plan approved by Gov. Bill Haslam’s administration, reports Anne Paine.
The Department of Environment and Conservation said in April, 2010, that the company should not expand its almost-full Cedar Ridge Landfill into an area with a sinkhole and creek.
Contamination from the landfill 55 miles south of Nashville had showed up repeatedly in local waters, regulators said. Also, limestone riddled with cracks and open cavities lies beneath much of the property, making the area unstable.
This year under a new governor, state regulators held private negotiations with landfill officials who had appealed the denial. The meetings led to a signed agreement that is serving as a how-to-expand-the-landfill guide.
State environmental officials say the document has nothing to do with politics and doesn’t guarantee approval for extending the life of the landfill in Lewisburg, where Middle Tennessee waste — including some of Nashville’s sewage sludge — has gone over the years.
“We said, ‘Here are our objections,’ and they said, ‘Well, we think we can give you information to overcome those objections,’ ” said Bob Martineau, commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation.
We said, ‘OK, we’ll give you a shot to do that.’ ”
Local resident Kathy Fox said she is worried and perplexed. Engineering to try to fix the site’s many shortcomings could bring problems later.
“We’d like to know why the state has changed its mind,” said Fox, with the nonprofit Tri-County Environmental Association.
“We felt like it’s not a matter of if the sinkhole will collapse, but when. You would have such a disaster — the pollution that would cause would be beyond our imagination.”
The group is one of five parties — the others being neighbors of the landfill — that filed a lawsuit against Waste Management last year over pollution from the more than 20-year-old landfill, which they say continues to taint creeks and springs.
Waste Management has denied the accusations, saying it has no ongoing state or federal violations at its Cedar Ridge Landfill in Marshall County
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