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Rep. Bryan Terry discusses summer landfill issues

Republic Services has applied to the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) for a northern expansion of Middle Point Landfill.  Representative Bryan Terry, MD (R-Murfreesboro) has opposed the proposed expansion and has been a community leader holding Republic accountable for issues relative to the landfill.  Rep. Terry provided a community update surrounding the expansion application and problems relative to the landfill.


Folks, I wanted to send out some updated information on the landfill.  As I have stated before, I am opposed to the expansion of Middle Point.  A lot has been going on, and we need to continue to be engaged in this process.

As you may know, the Central Tennessee Region Solid Waste Planning Board reviewed Republic Services’ Part 1 application for northern expansion.  The board unanimously voted that the application and expansion plan did not fit into the 10-year plan for the region.  Their negative recommendation was sent to the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC).  Republic has said that they will not submit Part 2 until after February of 2022.

Prior to the board taking a vote, I submitted numerous constituent comments to the board for review, almost all of which were in opposition to the expansion. I have been surveying the district and collecting more comments to provide to TDEC for review prior to their decision.  Almost all new comments are opposed to the expansion, as well.

The final decision for the permit will be in the hands of TDEC.

I believe that many were expecting a TDEC vote or decision soon after the Central Tennessee Region Board took their vote. That is not the case. I have confirmed with TDEC that TDEC will only be deciding on the permit after they have received and reviewed Part 1 AND Part 2 of the application, which includes the negative recommendation from the Board for Part 1.

Here are a couple of points that need to be made concerning this situation.  First, Part 2 requires an engineering survey and a hydro-geological survey.  It may take about a year to complete and, obviously, costs money to perform.  A negative recommendation from the Board doesn’t necessarily mean that TDEC will reject the permit, but it should carry some weight, especially since the Board chronicled instances in which Middle Point did not function as a good neighbor.

Of note, the Rutherford County Commission is reviewing Request for Proposals (RFP) for long term solid waste management for the county.  Republic Services has submitted an RFP that includes a southern expansion of Middle Point. If the County selects the Republic RFP, it would likely negate the negative recommendation from the Central Tennessee Region Solid Waste Board.

Although the board recommendation and the RFP situation are noteworthy, the issue that needs the most attention concerns the teenagers who became ill after swimming at Walter Hill Dam. I have asked both TDEC and the Tennessee Department of Health (TDH) to provide any information about water testing. I have received some preliminary numbers from TDEC and am awaiting an answer from TDH.

TDEC is testing for E. Coli at four places along the East Fork of the Stones River, including at the dam.  They still have several more sampling events scheduled in order to determine a geomean of E. Coli. TDEC stated that, after a rain, spikes of E. Coli are expected.

From what I have been able to research, in a University of Wisconsin recreational water testing guide on E. Coli, the following was stated:

“E. coli: The only natural habitat of E. coli is the intestinal tract of warm-blooded animals. The recreational water guideline is less than 126 MPN/100 ml, averaged from 5 samples during a 30-day period. The single sample guideline is less than 235 MPN/100 mL. An advisory is recommended between 235 MPN/100 mL and 1000 MPN/100 mL.”

All four of the sites sampled by TDEC reported an E. Coli MPN/100 ml of 2420 or greater on July 13.  TDEC did report that it rained that day, and a spike should be expected. However, I’m not sure to what extent those numbers should spike.  Two of the four sites showed spikes of around, or over, 1000 on July 19.

Obviously, those numbers are much higher than advisory limits, according to the Wisconsin report.  I’m awaiting further context and explanation from TDEC on these numbers.

Finally, if you can, please email my office at [email protected], and provide a comment about the proposed expansion.  I’m going to provide constituent comments to TDEC as they prepare to make their final decision about the expansion permit.

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