Landfill Expansion Questioned

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Councilman Nick Leonardo represents Bordeaux. Photo by Clint Confehr

By Clint Confehr

NASHVILLE, TN — Bordeaux’s councilman wants metro’s council to take authority, as allowed by state law, to decide whether expansion of landfills here should be allowed.

Getting authority might be likened to preventive medicine — taking responsibility for your own health — although there’s no immediate request to expand a construction and demolition (C&D) landfill near the closed Bordeaux Landfill.

“I met with Waste Management after introducing the bill,” says Councilman Nick Leonardo. “They said they do have plans, not tomorrow but in the future, to expand.”

When the C&D landfill is expanded depends on how much space is available.

Leonardo wants Nashville to adopt the Jackson Law. It’s named for the senator who sponsored enabling legislation so counties may stop Tennessee’s Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) from permitting new, or expansion of, landfills.

“Nashville is growing,” Mayor Megan Barry said on a Sunday radio show, noting $3.9 billion of investment and 27 construction cranes in Nashville.

Rubble from growth goes to C&D landfills.

“We have about eight years of space at Southern Services Construction and Demolition Debris Landfill,” Waste Management Regional Vice President Robert Cheney says. “With the construction boom in Nashville, we’re seeing some increases in the amount of materials we are receiving.”

The eight-year projection “does presume growth,” Cheney says. “We anticipate that at some point within the next eight years, if we want to continue operations, we are going to have to expand.”

Leonardo says residents near the C&D landfill call it Mount Trashmore. Motorists can smell it, the councilman says, alleging regular household trash is dumped there; that garbage slips through. Cheney says: that’s rare; garbage isn’t buried there; and when it’s found, it’s trucked elsewhere.

When Waste Management wants to increase its footprint at the landfill on Ashland City Highway, Leonardo wants to make sure that the city has something to say about it.

If adopted by the council, the Jackson Law requires city leaders to decide whether an expansion meets eight criteria. Those include whether a larger landfill would be good or bad for the environment, public health, the economy, other quality of life issues, and whether the expansion is on land that’s zoned for such use.

Expansion requests start with an application to TDEC’s Division of Solid Waste. Questions arising from that include whether additional land is classified under the zoning code for such use and the Planning Commission could hold hearings. Without Jackson Law authority, expansion requests go to the regional solid waste board before TDEC can approve expansion. Solid waste boards are required by the Solid Waste Act of 1992 and they must have a trash disposal plan.

Kenneth F. McMichael Sr., a senior credit analyst for First Tennessee Bank’s Commercial and Industrial Banking Division, was reappointed to Nashville’s Solid Waste Region Board on Feb. 7, as were Board Chairman John E. Sherman, a 16-year veteran of the board, and Vanessa Paz, a member of the city’s Liveable Nashville Committee, to terms expiring Dec. 15, 2022. McMichael and Sherman say the panel has started a process to change its waste disposal plan.

Also on Feb. 7, the council voted by a wide margin to postpone consideration of Leonardo’s ordinance to have the city adopt the Jackson Law.

Noting the vote to postpone Jackson Law adoption, Leonardo asks how a council member could want people to have less of a voice.

“My district is dumped on all the time,” the Bordeaux councilman says. “This is the only way we can have local control.”

Cheney says “There’s a hunger for more information.”

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