Middle Point Landfill was issued a notice of violation in June. Now, the board is set to vote on the expansion proposal Friday.
"It's just been a mess. And stinky. So stinky," Meredith Kermicle, who lives near the landfill, said.
The stench and health concerns are the things that keep Kermicle up at night.
"I really hate the stink because I like to work out in the garden, and there are days that I can't. It gives me a massive headache. It's why Kermicle spoke up during a recent solid waste planning board meeting in Rutherford County."
For two hours, Rutherford County residents spoke out, including Peggy Johnson.
"There was a lot of anger in that room, and the resentment of what they've been told over the years. The old residents that are here and have been told over and over lie after lie. And they're tired. They're just tired," Johnson said.
News4 Nashville has investigated the landfill dispute for nearly two decades.
Republic Services would not agree to an on-camera interview request. Republic Services said they believe the proposed expansion is consistent with the region's solid waste plan and is necessary.
They also say the expansion would provide the region with an affordable, responsible disposal solution for the next 25 years.
"Landfill capacity is increasingly limited in middle Tennessee – less than eight years at current rates, according to TDEC," Republic Services Media Relations stated in an email.
But News 4 obtained a document from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) that shows in June during a recent inspection, violations of the state's solid waste management regulations and the facility's permit were identified.
One observation showed that Leachate, which is the liquid that oozes out of the garbage when it's in the ground, was observed at the site. The violation observation reads: "Leachate outbreak observed on eastern exterior slope, adjacent to Landfill Road. This leachate outbreak has left the cell."
News4 asked Republic Services to explain this violation and if they've corrected it. They sent us this statement:
The Notice of Violation was issued during a June 16 inspection and we immediately submitted a corrective action plan. Middle Point landfill was re-inspected on July 2. TDEC subsequently published a report noting that corrective action had been taken and the violations had been remediated.
“We strive to be operationally perfect at Middle Point,” General Manager Mike Claassen said. “Obviously we never want to have a violation, but the process worked the way that it should. We took the re-inspection as great feedback that we have proper procedures and systems in place.”
Republic Services Media Relations
According to TDEC's most recent records, the site has taken in 25,038,437 cubic yards of waste during the life of the landfill up to 2020. The most recent models indicate a Landfill Gas (LG) generation rate of 9,985 dry standard cubic feet per minute. 100% of the LG that's collected goes to two enclosed flares operating at the facility.
Mac Nolen, Solid Waste/Landfill Director for Rutherford County sits on the board that will vote on the expansion proposal.
"We have to look at all the facts, and of course the residents not wanting it, is a fact!! But TDEC doesn't look at the residents and what they think about it, as much as all the other things. It's a hard decision for us," Nolen said.
Nolen says he's aware of the health concerns, but says there is currently no direct tie that resident's health are at risk.
"There's people that talk about this like that, but there's no proof to back it up. And you're more than able to say however you feel and whatever you want. Even if it isn't true. But if you do the testing, they haven't done those things that they've been accused of," Nolen said.
For the residents who are worried about the expansion, they hope the board and the state take their concerns to heart.
"Rutherford County is growing at a huge pace. There's no way we can keep taking in trash from 27 other or 34--however many counties --it's just not workable anymore. I always tell people, Nashville's sends us their garbage--and they get it back in their water," Kermicle said.
In the notice of violation, it was stated that a follow-up inspection would be conducted on June 28. News 4 reached out to TDEC as well to see if that follow-up inspection occurred and if Middle Point Landfill corrected their violation. Unfortunately, no one answered the phone since today is observed as a state holiday following the 4th of July weekend. We will let you know when we hear back.
The Central Tennessee Region for the Solid Waste Planning Board is scheduled to discuss and vote on the expansion proposal on July 9, 2021 at the historic courthouse in Murfreesboro. The meeting is open to the public, but the public comment portion is now over.