Core Issues

BURNT’s core issues reflect a holistic approach to environmental justice in Tennessee, covering diverse yet interrelated topics. Our main concerns have to do with solid waste management (which includes discussion of landfills, composting and recycling), chemical and pesticide use, and water pollution.

For more specific information on any of these topics, check out their individual pages:

You can also browse blog entries about all of our core issues below:

Middlepoint Landfill

Testimony on State’s Largest Landfill Makes Our Point   On 22 August 2013, TDEC Division of Air Quality held a formal  hearing on Middlepoint Landfill in Murfreesboro.   The state’s largest landfill is located on the Stone River in Karst geology  with caves and cracks that allow pollution to migrates.  There was testimony  that people on wells in the vicinity have black algae growing from their kitchen and  bathroom faucets.  120 people turned out on a week day night.     Testimony that odors were strong, very unpleasant, and hurt property values  were repeated.  Mr. J. R. said “I live about 1 1/2 miles from the landfill  as the crow flies.  I have lived in my house for 28 years.  For the first  18 years it was not an issue.  In the last 10 years it has been a major  issues.  Not being able to go out and sit on my porch in the back and to  put up with this smell and all the poor quality that’s coming from the landfill.   Hearing comment #10, pg, 19 of 35.   Mr. S.A. states “Okay, I was here before  they were and they have no right to stink me out of my home, but they are, they  are and they do a lot of other people, too.  So, if you want to talk about air quality  there you go, there you have something to work on.  Thank you.”—Comment #10, pg.  19 of 35   There are many side issues, as always, such as the sweet heart “host fees” of  $1.20 a ton Rutherford County gets, which is a small portion of the total...

Testimony Concerning “Solid Waste Plan”

BURNT Bob Martineau, Commissioner Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation 312 Rosa L. Parks Avenue—Tennessee Tower—2nd Floor Nashville, Tennessee 37243 RE: Testimony Concerning “Solid Waste Plan 2015-2025” Dear Commissioner Martineau: On behalf of BURNT, the State Conference of the NAACP, and the Nashville Branch of the NAACP, we appreciate the opportunity to testify concerning the “Solid Waste Plan 2015- 2025” This is a very difficult process. TDEC staff and managers will not accept that the loop-hole ridden TCA 68-211-861 or ignoring TCA 68-211-803(a) are not serious problems. The attached testimony about Middle Point Landfill demonstrates the horrible problems of rampant odors, devalued property, and powerless citizens common to a dozen TDEC regulated landfills. The ‘Solid Waste Plan 2015-2025’ should narrowly focus on construction waste recycling and composting. If the Tennessee ‘Solid Waste Plan 2015-2025’ is like the Georgia Plan with “GOALS” followed by three pages of “ACTION STEPS”, TDEC and the landfill companies will have another 10 years of pollution. Specific goals of composting and recycling construction waste need measurable goals and outside management. It is much more difficult to administer the environmental part of TDEC than the parks. Very few people sabotage the parks while many in Tennessee are still rooted in 1950’s thinking that allowing pollution is key to economic growth. Landfills and the current solid waste system employ very few people. Recycling and composting could create thousands of jobs and make money for all parties including the landfill companies. . There is a very strong element of environmental injustice. Landfills are located where poor, rural, and minority live. A. Distinguishing factors of solid waste in Middle...

Advisory Committee Hearing

July 21, 2008 To: Members of the Municipal Solid Waste Advisory Committee Solid waste reform is under consideration by the Advisory Committee and the Solid Waste Reduction Task Force. When developing your reform recommendations, I encourage you to consider that solid waste is also a water issue because landfills can and routinely do leak. The impacts from leaking landfills can affect our water resources for decades. Reform of Tennessee solid waste policy must consider the past results of our landfills and the impact on groundwater and surface waters. This letter summarizes key points that illustrate examples of how the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) procedures for permitting and monitoring landfills sometimes fall short of protecting our groundwater and surface water resources. Groundwater and surface water impacts are important considerations when determining needed actions associated with long-range solid waste planning and waste reduction goals. The public is becoming increasingly aware of the importance of clean surface water and groundwater. As drought conditions worsen, our groundwater is again being relied upon more by the public and municipal users for such purposes as drinking water and irrigation. Our surface waters too are at risk because shallow groundwater typically discharges into streams. General Conclusion To-date, TDEC’s data show that landfills have and routinely contaminate our groundwater. Further, landfill permits are being issued at sites that TDEC determined to be unsuitable for land disposal. These conclusions are based on a review of TDEC files for representative middle Tennessee landfills and from actual conclusions made by TDEC staff. Widespread Landfill Effects on Groundwater A database provided by the TDEC Division of Solid Waste...

Pervasive Chemicals

  Pervasive Chemicals Multiplying In Our Bodies and Environment  The link below leads to ‘Health Render’ with a variety of articles on multiple chemicals in our food, air, and bodies.  An article from ‘Scientific American’ found that chemicals in personal care products were pervasive in Chicago air. A little known fact: our water treatment plants do not process or clean pharmaceutical medicines we eliminate, over the counter the medications, or shampoos or soaps.  So, as rivers flow past one city after another, they accumulate these chemicals. Another study determined products designed for newborns, babies, and toddlers“…including car seats, breastfeeding pillows, changing pads and other items made with polyuretherane  foam, found that 80 per cent of the products tested contained chemical flame retardants that are considered toxic.”  The peer-reviewed study was published in the Environmental Science & Technology Journal. The issue of pervasive chemicals is a plague on our bodies, lives, and society.Unfortunately it is a silent plague.   Citizens do not take on multi-national businesses which have free reign to use any of the 80,000 untested and unregulated chemicals.  There is a link to landfills.  The chemicals enter the food chain through insects eating the landfilled materials and then being eaten by birds and on up the food chain. These are truly pervasive chemicals.  Apparent increases in birth defects, autism, cancer, obesity, and other chronic illnesses chemicals may be linked to these chemicals.  We need to WAKE UP.  A real question—what do businesses want to introduce these chemicals into our bodies and brains? BURNT has had successes in pesticides.  In the early 1990’s we worked well with the Metro Schools to clean up many dangerous practices in application of chemicals. ...

A Basic Primer To Treating Water

A Basic Primer To Treating Water  Water pollution by business and humans is a major problem. Below is a four step summary of water treatment. It appears as if … We use massive infusions of chemicals to sanitize water prescription medications,  over the counter medications, pesticides and other chemicals are not cleaned or removed. Septic tanks treat sewage at the place where it is located, rather than transporting the waste through a treatment plant or sewage system. Septic tanks are usually used to treat sewage from an individual building. Untreated sewage from a property flows into the septic tank and the solids are separated from the liquid. Solid material is separated depending on their density. Heavier particles settle at the bottom of the tank whereas lighter particles, such as soap scum, will form a layer at the top of the tank. Biological processes are used to help degrade the solid materials. The liquid then flows out of the tank into a land drainage system and the remaining solids are filtered out. Ozone wastewater treatment Ozone wastewater treatment is a method that is increasing in popularity. An ozone generator is used to break down pollutants in the water source. The generators convert oxygen into ozone by using ultraviolet radiation or by an electric discharge field. Ozone is a very reactive gas that can oxidise bacteria, moulds, organic material and other pollutants found in water. Using ozone to treat wastewater has many benefits: Kills bacteria effectively. Oxidises substances such as iron and sulphur so that they can be filtered out of the solution. There are no nasty odours or residues produced from the treatment. Ozone converts back into oxygen quickly, and leaves no trace once it has been used. The disadvantages of using ozone as...

USGS Documents Pesticides In Ground Water

USGS   Documents Pesticides In Ground Water The United States Geological Society is the research arm of  Department of Interior of the federal Government.  Their results carry a lot of weight except the USGS simply will not be drawn into policy discussions.  However, the Agency accepts many assumptions about society such as in this article that our growing population mandates certain crops which are high level users of pesticides.  Perhaps we should examine our diet and the sugar laden ‘food’ we eat. The real crime is what we are doing to ourselves.  These chemicals may dissolve but they do not disappear—until they come back to our bodies in the water or ‘food’ We invite you to explore this page and the USGS.   Please write BURNT with your Impression on how we are treating our most precious resource. GO TO ARTICLE   ...

IMPROVING THE ENVIRONMENT THROUGH CITIZEN INVOLVEMENT WITH GOVERNMENT,

BURNT IMPROVING THE ENVIRONMENT THROUGH CITIZEN INVOLVEMENT WITH GOVERNMENT, BUSINESS, AND ACADEMIA 17 March 2010 The Honorable Tennessee State Senator Bo Watson Chairman Senate Government Operations Committee via electronic mail and hand delivery RE: Audit of Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation Dear Chairman Watson: : I the Committee extend the Department for two years and request the Department of the Audit to submit a written report prior to the start of the next session of the General Assembly based on investigations of citizen comments, business views, and independent evaluations of the Department including “Commissioner’s orders” and Notices of Violations” Environmental Injustice –91% of the 3,200 TDEC Employees are white [all Boards] –46 out of 49 members of the ‘Solid Waste Task Force’, the ‘Solid Waste Advisory Committee’, and the ‘State Solid Waste Disposal Control Board’ which determined proposed solid waste regulations are white [Solid Waste] –Tennessee landfills are invariably located where poor and minority live [Solid Waste] –An appeal of Class IV Construction and Demolition Landfill ‘Southern Services’ in a primarily black area of Nashville was heard by the State Water Board composed of 7 members, all white, and all white males and four apparently worked for the state of Tennessee [Water Board] —The Environmental Injustice Coordinator is not active and involved Disastrous Pollution –Top TDEC officials routinely say that no one in Tennessee should drink well water [Water, Board and Ground Water Board] 615.327.8515 P.O. BOX 128555 burnt615.org A Member Of NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE 37212 burnt.tn@gmail.com Community Shares –TVA Coal Ash fill, permitted and regulated by TDEC, apparently had many failures and was allowed three vertical expansion prior...

Tennessee Solid Waste

Tennessee Solid Waste The content of Tennessee solid waste is basically the same as the rest of the Country—except for the broken dreams of some Nashville song writers. The difference between national solid waste [see link of EPA pie chart] and Tennessee solid waste is how hard TDEC (Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation) works to support landfills. From false 25% recycling goals for local governments to Class III Construction Waste Landfills which credit landfilled construction waste as recycled to grossly casual regulation of leaking landfills, TDEC has focused on landfills as the solution A KEY indicator—TDEC personnel regularly claim near 50% diversion (20% construction waste, unspecified hazardous waste, and composting.) Link to US EPA pie chart Link to BURNT “Recycling” Link to BURNT “Landfills” Link to “Solid Waste Numbers” Link to past reform and “pending...

Open Letter to AFL-CIO: Jobs and business from solid waste

BURNT IMPROVING THE ENVIRONMENT THROUGH CITIZEN INVOLVEMENT WITH GOVERNMENT, BUSINESS, AND ACADEMIA 12 March 2012 Gary Moore President Tennessee AFL-CIO 1901 Lindell Avenue via electronic mail and hand delivery RE: Jobs and business from solid waste Dear President Moore: Thank you for the opportunity to discuss how to manage solid waste as a raw material to create jobs and business. This is a growth opportunity for clean jobs. Tennessee landfills 11 million tons of waste at a cost to citizens, business, and local government of $1 billion annually. Solid waste is transported 10 million miles annually from cities to landfills. Landfills are our organizing focus. There are fundamental solutions—compost food waste and non-recycled paper, recycle and reuse construction waste, and source separation of food waste in homes and business. Environmental justice is very important—reduce landfills near poor and minority and we create jobs and business for poor and minority. We are active with the NAACP is active on this issue. The logic is very clear—it pays to recycle and compost to recover materials and to recover energy from highly processed solid waste. Labor can lead in management and research. Food waste composting and reuse of construction waste creates jobs. Simple steps such as individual source separation of food waste in residential and business greatly enhance creating new jobs and business. Food waste is valuable as compost material but very harmful if landfilled. Polluted landfills and high hidden costs to landfills are the key to solid waste reform. Our waste is laden with risky chemicals. BURNT offers strong opportunities for solid waste in our work on landfills. On 11-12 April,...

BURNT APPEALS SOLID WASTE STUDY

1 BURNT IMPROVING THE ENVIRONMENT THROUGH CITIZEN INVOLVEMENT WITH GOVERNMENT, BUSINESS, AND ACADEMIA 21 August 2013 Robert T. Lee General Counsel Comptroller of the Treasury Office of General Counsel RE: Request Review RFP 32701-01528; Expert Witness Dear Mr. Lee: BURNT has followed this RFP 32701-0158 closely. We began writing five months ago when this was a “Waste Reduction Plan”. We have continued to point out fundamental non-compliance by TDEC with laws including TCA 68-211-803. TDEC has many skilled managers and staff. However, the vested power and money of a few multinational solid waste companies appears to unduly influence policy. We believe that TDEC RFP 32701-0158 is not valid because 1. the audits of TDEC and the Division of Solid Waste demonstrate that the Comptroller’s Office does not understand the complex issues of managing Tennessee solid waste; 2. TDEC has flagrantly and willfully violated TCA 68-211-803 ‘Public Policy’ since 1991. For 22 years, multiple loop-holes have disguised the high rate of landfilling, water has been polluted, and the public has been injured. Title VI Civil rights Law may have been violated. Tennessee law “…assure[s] that solid waste facilities…do not adversely affect the health, safety and well-being of the public and do not degrade the quality of the environment…” TCA 68-211-803 Since specific, disadvantaged groups including poor, minority, and rural are injured, there may be Tennessee Constitution and Federal Constitution questions. Separation of solid waste management under TCA 68- 211-803 ‘Public Policy’ and landfill regulation and permitting under TCA 68-211-102 may violate statutes and the Tennessee and Federal constitution. 3. An Expert Opinion by Mark Quarles, P.G. [attached, Advisory Committee Letter]...