Loudon County seeks new waste director

Hugh G. Willett knoxnews.com


It’s been 10 years since Loudon County’s Matlock Bend Landfill was under the supervision of a county employee.
Since that time, problems, including a landslide in 2010 and a shortage in accruing closure costs, have led to a reconsideration of the need for the position.
Steve Field, chairman of the Loudon County Solid Waste Disposal Commission, told the county commission Monday his board is moving ahead with a plan for the county to hire a new director of solid waste. “We’re working on a job description,” he said.
Loudon County previously had a director of the landfill but eliminated the position in 2002. Former landfill director Mike Atkins, who now works for Monroe County, said he believes Loudon County needs a full-time waste director.
The waste commission, made up of residents with varied fields of expertise, needs to be able to rely on the advice of a director with an understanding of the waste management industry, Atkins said. “It’s an important job that requires somebody who knows the business,” he said.
Field told the commission he believes the new director should be a county employee, reporting directly to the county mayor. In previous discussions, it has been suggested the director’s salary might be paid by the county, by the waste commission or by a combination of the stakeholders, including the city of Loudon and Lenoir City.
Lenoir City Mayor Tony Aikens has raised concerns about a possible tax increase related to some of the funding and operations problems at the landfill. He said he supports the creation of the new position.
Field also said the waste commission is still engaged in contract negotiations with Santek Environmental Services, the company managing the Matlock Bend Landfill.
An audit released earlier this year confirmed that under the current Santek contract, signed in 2007, the solid waste commission is not accruing enough money to fund the closure costs of the landfill. The long-term costs are estimated at up to $8 million.
Field said he is “optimistic” that the commission will be able to reach a deal that will be acceptable to Santek and the commission.
He said the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation has been encouraging Santek to adopt a “close as you go” policy. The policy would reduce long-term closure costs by closing cells in the landfill as they are filled instead of waiting until the landfill closes in the next 25-30 years.
In addition to requiring that the landfill cells are covered with soil and replanted, TDEC requires the property be monitored for 30 years following closure.
County Mayor Estelle Herron said she has appointed a new member of the solid waste commission. Tom Paul, a resident of Tellico Village, will replace Bill Waldrup, who announced his resignation