Landfill closes abruptly, residents concerned about health - WSMV News 4

Landfill closes abruptly, residents concerned about health

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A Middle Tennessee landfill has shut down.

It may sound like good news for those who live nearby, but problems dealing with the dump could get far worse before they get better.

“TDEC has failed so grossly, so badly, it should be on national news,” said attorney Elizabeth Murphy.

Employees of Environmental Waste Solutions were given their last paycheck last Thursday night.

“He handed us paper checks and said, 'This is it,'” Jeffrey Newell said.

According to the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, the owner plans to file for bankruptcy this week.

“It’s the only landfill bankruptcy I've ever heard of,” said Patrick Flood with TDEC.

It was hard not for the crowd at Monday night’s meeting about the closure not to say "I told you so.” They've been fighting the landfill for years

“Basically there has been a chemistry experiment next to these residences for six years,” Murphy said.

TDEC admits the landfill has been emitting harmful gases and potentially harmful water into the community.

“TDEC is very concerned about those two systems, and we are trying to pull our resources together so we can step in,” Flood said.

Murphy said TDEC has continuously issued permits for expansions and hazardous waste collection when it should have been figuring out ways to make it safer.

“No one is stopping and saying, we have problems, we've been doing this for 10 years, these are the problems we are having, maybe we should stop,” Murphy said.

Residents say they are happy with the closure but not with the new problems dumped on them.

“It’s a huge issue and it's not going away. It's going to take years,” Mike Melton said.

Former employees said EWS needs daily maintenance. With no one there, hazardous materials are just sitting there.

“It’s almost like you're bailing out a boat and you can't stop bailing out the boat or it will sink,” Murphy said.

The community said they want a plan for what's left of the landfill and they want it now. They said their health depends on it.

TDEC promises a detailed plan soon.

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