CFS disposal rates may ‘significantly’ rise after landfill closure

By: Michael Campbell | Twitter: @itsthesoup
Posted: January 31, 2020 | 12:30 p.m.

Tri-City Landfill owners working to appeal state shutdown order

VIRGINIA – Months after state environmental regulators moved to shut down Petersburg’s Tri-City Landfill, which serves a number of communities in and around Southside Virginia, the facility’s owners warned the closure could result in “significantly increased” waste collection and disposal rates in those areas.

That information was shared by Meridian Waste, the parent company of Container First Services, the operators of the Tri-City Landfill along Puddledock Road, and the company’s chief marketing officer Mary O’Brien when asked for comment on the facility’s effort to appeal the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality’s action to revoke its solid waste facility permit in mid-October of last year. 

“DEQ has determined that CFS Group Disposal and Recycling Services, LLC exceeded the permitted waste pile height, failed to adequately cover exposed waste, failed to maintain the required amount of extra waste cover, and failed to correct the violations in a timely manner even after being repeatedly notified,” the statement from the agency detailed at the time.

As a result of the revocation, CFS is prohibited from accepting solid waste and their permit has been reissued solely for the purpose of “closure and providing post-closure care” of the Tri-City Landfill.

“These violations, as well as previous issues covered in Consent Orders issued by the Waste Management Board to CFS, represent a pattern of serious and repeated abuse,” said DEQ Director David Paylor. “The Commonwealth of Virginia has made it clear that non-compliance like this will not stand.”

The landfill, whose hills rise over the landscape of Prince George’s Puddledock commercial district and Colonial Heights’ Southpark shopping corridor, has been a source of criticism from those living and working near the facility due to chronic odor issues in past years, along with drawing the attention of state regulators, culminating in a Fall 2018 lawsuit filed by Attorney General Mark Herring against CFS for the landfill’s “significant and repeated waste management violations,” which date back in some cases to December of 2014, according to state records.

“CFS repeatedly received warnings that it was in violation of the law but it continued to ignore its responsibility to protect the land, air and water around the Tri-City Landfill and failed to comply with waste management permits and regulations,” said Attorney General Herring at the time of the suit’s filing. 

According to O’Brien, the landfill had reduced the amount of waste their Petersburg facility was intaking, cutting it down “by 90 percent” to “approximately 100 tons [per day],” down from the 1,000 tons per day they were permitted for, with the excess waste being taken to a separate CFS-operated facility, later revealed to be in Lunenburg County roughly 60 miles away. She also stressed that they had been working with state regulators to address the facility’s problem areas.

This month, while O’Brien declined an interview with The Prince George Journal citing the “ongoing litigation related to the enforcement action” levied in October, she did say Meridian and CFS are actively appealing the state’s decision, which also requires the company to “remove alleged excess waste” from the landfill and “truck it to an alternative landfill,” namely their Lunenburg facility.

“As part of that appeal, CFS is seeking a stay of the Order,” she said. “Until the stay is granted or the appeal is resolved, CFS is acting in compliance with the order”

The Meridian Waste representative detailed their efforts to remove excess waste the state wants extracted from the Petersburg landfill, which requires heavy equipment “to excavate the old, buried waste” and truck it to their alternate site, noting the trucks hauling the material “will travel through Petersburg, Colonial Heights, Prince George County and Dinwiddie County” and that activity could ramp up in frequency if they aren’t granted a stay in the state’s actions.

“If the requested stay is not granted, this activity will increase greatly over the coming months, potentially resulting in one truck leaving the Tri-City Landfill every two minutes,” she said. 

With the Tri-City Landfill closed for incoming waste, only operating in a maintenance and waste removal capacity due to the state action, O’Brien warned the increased costs associated with transporting trash to Lunenburg County, 60 miles southwest of the Petersburg landfill, could result in higher rates in Southside Virginia localities served by CFS.

“The Tri-City Regional Landfill is the closest disposal site, and thus, the lowest cost provider for waste collection and disposal services for localities including Petersburg, Hopewell, Colonial Heights, Prince George County and Dinwiddie County,” she said. “Thus, waste collection and disposal rates for all of these communities can be expected to significantly increase during the next waste bid cycle.”

In the days after the landfill’s permit was revoked, the prospect of increased rates was a concern for Prince George County Administrator Percy Ashcraft, who said the county is closely watching the landfill’s efforts to remain operational.

“We are certainly concerned in the long-term about where trash is going to go when it leaves Prince George County because if it goes too far of a distance, further than even Lunenburg is today, that’s got to be an increase to us and ultimately to our residents,” he said in an interview.

Along with providing waste disposal in parts of Prince George County, CFS has a contractual agreement with the county to operate the convenience center along Union Branch Road. Any change to that aspect of their relationship with the county, according to Ashcraft, would require CFS to come before the board of supervisors to agree to that.

Copyright 2020 by Womack Publishing
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