Loudon County seeks TDEC grant for old landfill protection
By Hugh G. Willett knoxnews.com
Loudon County commissioners have approved a request for a grant through the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation that would help pay for remediation of the Poplar Springs Landfill.
"We had the application for this grant hand delivered to TDEC on Monday," Loudon County Mayor Buddy Bradshaw said last week.
The $166,000 grant, if approved, would require a 50 percent match of about $83,000, which would be paid out of the closure fund that stands at about $430,000, Bradshaw said.
Bradshaw said the county wants to take all steps to make sure the landfill, which was closed during the 1980s, does not present a future hazard.
"An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure," he said.
The grant was also approved by other stakeholders in the landfill, including the city of Loudon and Lenoir City. The money would be used on improvements for access, including roads, drainage, coverage and capping. A 10-year monitoring program will also be required.
"The point we have to consider first and foremost is public welfare and secondly, huge liabilities should a major slide event occur," Bradshaw said.
The "Old Closed Landfill" grant program and the Solid Waste Management Fund is administered by the Department of Environment and Conservation, according to TDEC spokesman Eric Ward.
The Solid Waste Management Act of 1991 was amended in 2007 to create a program to provide grants to any county or municipality that operated a Class 1 landfill permitted by the state that is now closed and does not have a composite liner system in place, Ward said.
The grant may be used for the investigation and corrective action at such landfills determined by the TDEC to be causing contamination of ground water and harm to health or the environment, he said.
An $18,000 study, paid for by the county and conducted by Luna Law Group of Nashville, specialists in environmental law, had outlined hundreds of thousands of dollars in potential liability.
The law group will make a new aerial survey in the spring that could cost another $4,000 to make sure that there is no other unstable areas that might lead to slides.
The landfill, which operated from 1973-87, had been the subject of speculation about groundwater pollution for years. Herb Newton purchased about 600 acres, including the landfill, in 2014 from Capital Bank, which acquired the tract through foreclosure on failed developer Mike Ross.
When the property changed hands, Newton raised questions about the county's liability in remediating the property.
A study completed in 2014 determined the residential wells were clean, though one area had slightly elevated ammonia levels and another had slightly elevated nitrate. Tests showed the contamination were agriculture related, not from the landfill. Both were below hazardous levels.