Leader Blues

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

TOP STORY > >City approved landfill expansion in ’99

By ALIYA FELDMAN
Leader editor

Jacksonville officials have supported a bigger trash dump at the city’s entrance since 1999, when Mayor Tommy Swaim signed a resolution in support of expanding the landfill, a plan that would make it three times the size it is now.

This disclosure was brought to light at a Monday night meeting in Jacksonville, along with residents’ concerns over a bigger landfill, including allowing trash with asbestos and other contaminants in it, its closeness to homes, the stench, worsened flooding at Dupree Park and the destruction of wetlands.

Waste made from hazardous materials, including asbestos, is already allowed into the landfill. It would continue to be allowed if the landfill is expanded.

“It’s sad the highest manmade structure in the city is a landfill,” Charlie Marsh, who lives in Stonewall, said.

About 50 residents attended the meeting at the community center held by the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) to discuss the landfill, which would be used for 24 years, but will be visible for much longer.

Trash from Jacksonville, Little Rock, North Little Rock, Maumelle, Beebe, Bald Knob, Sherwood, Faulkner County, Mayflower, Judsonia, unincorporated parts of Pulaski County and commercial and industrial waste is dumped at the site.

ADEQ is considering the permit application that would expand the Waste Management-owned Two Pine site at the intersection of I-440 and Hwy. 67/167.

“We haven’t made a decision on the permit yet,” Bryan Leamons, engineer supervisor at ADEQ, said.

“But we are very close in going down that path,” he added.

If the landfill plans are within legal parameters, ADEQ does not generally deny permits, Leamons said.

The expansion would be about a third of a mile from the nearest home. ADEQ requires the dump be at least 300 feet from a residence, and 100 feet from the property boundary.

The site cannot be within the 100-year flood plain.

Leamons said this site would have a water-runoff diversion unit approved by FEMA.

“Everyone that lives here is familiar with the flooding,” said Joey Price, who lives near the landfill.

“That water backs up into our city’s parks.”

He asked Leamons and Steve Martin, a deputy director at ADEQ, what kind of protection the state would provide.

They promised that water that percolates through the trash will not wind up in local waterways. But Leamons said, “You just can’t prevent certain things in the waste stream.”

Alderman Terry Sansing was surprised to learn Waste Management is using the 1999 resolution as proof of Jacksonville’s support for the site.

“This is nine years later,” he said. “Plans for beautifying Jacksonville should be considered in the permitting process.…You need to understand (it) will be a dominating feature on our skyline.”

Leamons told Sansing that the landfill will be hidden from the highway.

As trees have been cut down to make way for I-440 construction, which dissected the landfill and caused the dump to lose that space, it has also caused the dump to be more obvious to drivers who enter Jacksonville from the south entrance.

Federal law requires the location to be 1,000 feet from the interstate or highway unless there is a landscaping plan for operational screening, as there would be at an expanded landfill.

The dump will be 462 feet above sea level. The expansion would impact 12 acres of wetlands that are bottomland hardwoods, classed as the most protected, according to Leamons.

David Conrad, director of landfill operations at Two Pine, said that 43 acres of wetlands will be cultivated to make up for destruction of the 12 acres.