By Clint Confehr
NASHVILLE, TN — Opposition to relocation of a business processing revoltingly polluted water was doomed nine years ago, according to Metro’s 2nd District councilman.
“The only way to stop them was by zoning,” Councilman DeCosta Hastings said Saturday, emphasizing his message to voters before a failed attempt to use state law to stymie the business.
Hastings’ predecessor, Frank Harrison, passed a 2009 rezoning for where Onsite Environmental’s owner wants to move what opponents call the “grease plant” at 1421 Baptist World Center Drive near a church to 2832 Whites Creek Pike near a quarry.
“The only way to clean it up is to move it,” so it faces environmental rules that don’t apply to what predates protections, Hastings said.
Grease plant opponents knew that: demanding the plant go far away; saying other Onsite plants have bad environmental records. And they’re mad at Hastings for: saying he’d vote like they wanted, but didn’t; and giving council members signed petitions for relocation.
Haynes-Trinity Neighborhood Coalition spokeswoman Winnie Forrester says obviously
residents near the plant want it moved, and few petitioned for it to be near them. Hastings says: “There were several petitions … One was from all people in Haynes Manor;” Some speaking at a hearing “don’t live in my district;” District 1 and 3 council members said, “‘They’re in my district.’”
Onsite Environmental receives tank truck loads of: what’s pumped from restaurant grease traps; petroleum- and soap-polluted water from car washes; and landfill leachate — liquid squeezed from garbage by the weight of buried trash and collected to keep it from nearby waterways. Truck tank contents are pumped into Onsite tanks for treatment and disposal. Transfer spills smell bad. The decades-old plant is an open-air operation. Environmental rules require indoor operations with odor suppressants.
Metro council voted 31-7 to refrain from prohibiting treatment of leachate and dirty car wash water. Grease trappings are recycled into fertilizer that’s not subject to city restraint.
Sept. 7, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation Communications Director Eric Ward said “Onsite Environmental has yet to submit an application for the proposed new site to TDEC. If they do, the [new] … facility … would be a ‘Solid Waste Processor.’ The [proposed] Onsite facility … would be permitted under a ‘Permit by Rule’ application that has no legal requirement for public notice or a public comment period.”
Haynes Manor Neighborhood Association Vice President Perlie Murray-Dunn, a neighborhood coalition liaison, says, “Hopefully, we’ll be able to monitor that new plant and
see what we can do to see that they adhere to the regulations… We will talk about that” at meetings in Faith United Missionary Baptist Church. One was Sept. 10. The next is 6 p.m. Sept. 27.
Neighborhood group member Corey D. Jenkins Sr., of Money Wise Capital, says monitoring wastes time and deflects from what’s needed. “Suppose they find a violation? What’s the recourse? It won’t shut it down. I’m not saying nobody should be doing that … The more you focus on the past the less time you have to focus on the future. I’m for approaching them about commercial on Whites Creek” Pike.
Grand plans for mixed-use development and Cumberland River water taxis are well-publicized. Forrester says, “I’m not sure anybody wants to fight that. It’s more of not being invited to the table,” and not benefitting from development.