Report: No major contamination at Loudon County landfill

Hugh G. Willett


Tests conducted by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation at Loudon County's former Poplar Springs landfill late last year show no major contamination of soil or groundwater.

Loudon County Mayor Buddy Bradshaw, who accompanied TDEC to the landfill in November when the tests were conducted, said it was great news for the county.

"I think that is a breath of fresh air," he said.

The landfill, which operated from 1973-87, had been the subject of speculation about groundwater pollution for years. When the property changed hands last year the new landowner raised questions about the county's liability in remediating the property.

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. Based on the latest report, liability might be in the tens of thousands of dollars, he said.

Bradshaw said he spoke with Patrick Mulligan, a geologist with TDEC's division of solid waste management, late last week about the results of the tests.

"He told us the residential wells were clean, nothing abnormal. One had slightly elevated ammonia and another had slightly elevated nitrate. He believed these were agriculture related not landfill. He said both of those were below hazardous levels and in a low concentration," Bradshaw said.

According to TDEC, the leachate had eight volatile organics, petroleum derived, but were in low concentrations. The pond samples were cleaner, some high metal content normal with landfills, but within safe ranges, he said.

Ray Chadwick has lived within walking distance of the landfill for 34 years. Last year he appeared several times before the Loudon County Commission and the Solid Waste Disposal Commission to express his concern about the conditions at the landfill. Chadwick said he was encouraged to learn that there were no major problems with the landfill but he was still interested in getting the results of tests of the creek leading from the landfill to the local watershed.

About $430,000 is available for remediation through an account that has been under the control of the Solid Waste Disposal Commission.

Herb Newton purchased about 600 acres, including the landfill, last year from Capital Bank, which acquired the tract through foreclosure on failed developer Mike Ross.

The entire TDEC report on the landfill is to be released this week.