Solid Waste

The management – and mismanagement – of solid waste in Tennessee has always been BURNT’s first and foremost concern. While a vigorous critique of state and local legislation concerning landfills defines our group, this is just one large piece of the solid waste puzzle, which starts with the everyday choices of private citizens.  Education about recycling and composting is therefore an equally vital part of BURNT’s campaign to bring environmental justice to the land and people of our state.

Letter to State Board re: Solid Waste Act

The 1991 Solid Waste Act was launched with a formal, public three year planning effort defined by  the 1988 Solid Waste Act.  The resulting 1991 Solid Waste Act is 25 years old. It has fostered more landfilling than recycling and composting.   Problems include local and state tabulation of solid waste, poor definition of what is solid waste and what is recyclable, and apparent low rates of recycling.   Page references in the letter are to the 2015-2025 State Solid Waste Plan…..LINK:   2015-2025 Solid Waste and Materials Management Plan Please find attached a letter from BURNT to Stacy Cothran, Chair of  the State of the Tennessee Underground Storage Tanks and Solid Waste Control Board. >pg   2-3,4,5    Waste Stream numbers and that US EPA has a completely different scale to measure solid waste and recycling;     >pg. 3, Summary of Tennessee waste reporting problems.   >pg. 5–8 Detailed exam of local solid waste reporting.  By law individual businesses can refuse to report   >pg. 8–11– Tennessee proposes to turn control of solid waste reporting and regulating to local governments which have refused a more active role and overtly support landfills as the most expedient solution to solid waste  >pg. 12-15       Waste Diversion and Class III/IV Landfills–Tennessee landfills construction waste  >pg. 15-18       Recycling and Conclusion NOTE     Edits and Corrections, pg. 19 This legislation has not worked.  Twenty five years after passage and Tennessee is the only state which gives credit for landfilling construction waste which can often be recycled (see page 14, Class III/IV landfills)   Read the letter above then go to the 2015-2025 State Solid Waste Plan to understand  how we arrived at the point where the...

Flyer to Metro Council, 2016

Please find attached two flyers for the Metro Nashville Council.  We had multiple issues–a proposed $250,000 solid waste study BURNT did not want as long as the chair of the Regional Board remained for the study; Nashville recycling is hurt by Tennessee pro-landfill policy;  that Tennessee Code Annotated (TCA) 68-211-871(c)(d) allows any commercial, institutional,  and commercial business to withhold a annual solid waste report; TCA 68-211-861 authorizes Tennessee to be the only state to give a credit for landfilled construction waste; and that the 2007 Solid Waste Plan was not implemented   Nashville is the 2nd largest county in the state.  Our Council has intelligent, capable people.  We  want to work to keep them informed of all points of view.  MC3May2016.1...

BURNT Event: “Can Nashville Recycle More?”

On Tuesday November 17 from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Richland Park Library 4711 Charlotte BURNT will sponsor a presentation and discussion on “Can Nashville Recycle More?”  BURNT will explain what is in solid waste and why more waste can be recycled and composted.  The relationship between state solid waste law and metro practices will be considered.  The factors evident in Oregon and California, two high recycling state, will be discussed to see how to improve Nashville recycling. The event is free and open to the public. See the flyer below....

TDEC Develops Solid Waste Plan 2015-2025

The Division of Solid Waste recently unveiled their Solid Waste Plan 2015-2025 (available here). The new Plan embraced all the elements of the past with vague promises for change.  Tennessee will remain the only state to credit landfilled construction waste as diverted, wildly inaccurate local reports will be expanded, and emphasis on rural waste will remain instead of larger counties which create the majority of solid waste.  Sometime in the future, regulations for landfills will be reviewed even though there are amply regulations now to control landfill pollution. Below is a letter to a State Solid Waste Board member then a longer letter to the Commissioner. “11 April 2015 Alan Leiserson, Member Underground Storage Tanks and Solid Waste Control Board You and I have a unique view on the Solid Waste Plan 2015-2025.  We testified before a Joint Government Operations Rule Committee in December 2011 where the Plan was a central point.  The Committee could not understand how I could oppose a TDEC Planning  effort. This Plan perfectly expresses that opposition. This Plan does nothing except continue the present status of Tennessee solid waste.  There is nothing but vague promises for future change.  The loop-hole riddled  local reporting where local governments report only on what they personally collect and guess on the rest, the unique  to Tennessee rule of allowing landfilled construction waste to count as diverted which inflates Tennessee recycling numbers, and the polluting landfills are ignored. The Department states that only complaints from local citizens will trigger remediation of landfills even though Tennessee is ranked 44th among all states in well being which reflects education, citizen participation, job opportunities,...

BURNT Fails At General Assembly To Connect Air Quality to Landfills

BURNT  does a lot of work at the General Assembly which is not related to specific legislation.  Over the years,we have helped educate the legislature on problems of solid waste and landfills.  For this hearing of the Joint Government Operations Rule Committee we tried to link the refusal of the State Air Quality Board and Air Quality Department to consider odors.  Of course, this is quite strange behavior for an Air Quality Board–how can a State Air Quality Board ignore odors?  However, we found the General Assembly was not interested in this point.  It may be considered unfriendly to business. BURNT has worked two odor cases in Nashville (the four largest cities have identical enabling laws to the State which are interpreted to allow them to regulate air quality).  In both cases involving odors, businesses thrived after the offending plant was closed or regulated.  Of course, farms are a germane point against regulation. Here are examples of citizen testimony about Middle Point landfill in Murfreesboro on August 22 2013: Ms C.W.  –“…the smell [Murfreesboro landfill] is really bad on some days…[the people who live in] Walter Hill should not have to smell the odors that are emitted ” Pre-Hearing Comment #1, pg. 1 of 35 ** Mr. J. R. —“I live about 1 ½ 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 issue.  Being able to go out and sit on my porch in the back and have to put up with...

Shortcomings of the TDEC Solid Waste Report

BURNT analyzed the TDEC Solid Waste Report and found many faults. We wrote to the Attorney General, the Governor, the Commissioner, and the Division of Audit, yet received only one perfunctory reply. There can be no doubt that TDEC solid waste policy is a group effort. We found in an economy which took advantage of highly processed raw materials in solid waste there would be almost nothing to landfill. We found that TDEC violates Tennessee Code Annotated 69-211-803 which requires that solid waste facilities do not injure people or the environment. We found that compostable food waste is the largest landfilled waste stream which insures that landfills hurt people and the environment. We found that TDEC and the State solid Waste Board materially changed the conclusions of the Solid Waste Task force, which repudiates the repetitive cry of the Tennessee municipal league for no unfunded solid waste mandates. It is the cities hosting the landfills which suffer unfunded mandates. TDEC_Annual_Report.letters...

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...

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...