Murfreesboro City Council votes to take action against Middle Point Landfill

Published: Aug. 10, 2022 at 8:02 AM CDT
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MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WSMV) - On Wednesday, the Murfreesboro City Council voted to take action against the owners and operators of Middle Point Landfill.

After consultation with legal counsel, the City Council voted to file a federal lawsuit against Republic Services, Inc. and two of its subsidiaries BFI Waste Services of Tennessee, LLC and Republic Services of Tennessee, LLC.

The lawsuit will be filed later Wednesday in the U.S. District Court in Nashville.

Since September 2021, when the city opened an online odor complaint portal, the city received more than 2,000 complaints related to the landfill. The complaints were received after several public assurances from Republic a year ago that the odor problem would be gone, however, according to officials, the problem continued.

“It’s enough where you don’t want to open your windows on a nice breezy day,” says Maddison Weightman, who lives a block from the landfill.

“These complaints were received after multiple public assurances from Republic a year ago that the odor problems would be gone,” says Mayor Shane McFarland at a press conference Wednesday. “Yet the problem still exists.”

Mayor McFarland says landfill gases cause harsh odors described in the complaints. Some of those come from the reported 680,000 tons of secondary aluminum waste buried there.

“These problems are in addition to the massive uncovered trash piles at Middle Point that finally caught fire in July,” says Mayor McFarland.

“One day, it was like you could grab the smoke out here, and we’d never seen that before,” says Weightman, referencing that July day.

Earlier this year, Murfreesboro hired a consultant who used infrared cameras. They say they found plumes of toxic gases coming out of a broken gas flare.

“Those gases travel and make ground at our residents and homes in Murfreesboro,” says McFarland.

The lawsuit says people reported headaches, nausea, and burning eyes and noses.

The odor source wasn’t just trash; they were connected to how the site is operated, including how the gases and millions of gallons of leachate produced by the landfill were collected and managed.

Leachate was found going into the Walter Hill Recreation Area and the East Fork Stones River.

“According to Republic, they are not polluting the river,” says McFarland. “The evidence says otherwise.”

The city says they had the water tested and found a toxic chemical called PFAS.

Weightman says she suspected there was more than the smell.

“There’s concern about the children swimming in that,” she says. “I know there’s concerns which obviously I would never let my child do anything like that because of the landfill being right there.”

The city says they are giving Republic Services 60 days to come up with a solution. In the meantime, they are putting up signs at Walter Hill and the Stones River advising people not to ingest the water.

In the past, Republic Services wanted to expand the facility. However, the Central Tennessee Regional Solid Waste planning board denied the expansion project a few times before it was taken to the Davidson County chancery court.

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