Prince George monitoring Tri-City Landfill permit revocation

By: Michael Campbell | Twitter: @itsthesoup
Posted: November 26, 2019 | 12:30 p.m. 

CFS operates PG Convenience Center on Union Branch Road

PRINCE GEORGE – Prince George County Administrator Percy Ashcraft said the county is keeping an eye on recent action levied against the Container First Services-operated Tri-City Landfill after the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality moved to revoke its solid waste permit, preventing the company from accepting trash at the Petersburg facility..

In an interview, Ashcraft said they have not had formal discussions with CFS or its parent company Meridian Waste but, “there hasn’t been any notification in the short term that [the permit revocation] is going to affect any operations we have,” namely, the contractual relationship between Prince George and CFS that sees Container First Services operating the Prince George County Convenience Center along Union Branch Road.

In October, Virginia DEQ officials announced they had formally revoked the solid waste permit of the Tri-City Landfill nearly a year after regulators confirmed their intent to shut down the Petersburg-based facility and a lawsuit filed by the state attorney general’s office, all alleging years of mismanagement by the landfill’s operators as the rationale for their legal and regulatory actions.

“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 earlier this month.

With Virginia DEQ’s actions, the landfill, which has operated for several decades along East Washington Street and Puddledock Road in Petersburg near the Prince George County line, is prohibited from accepting trash but, their permit does allow them to proceed with “closure and providing post-closure care” of the Tri-City Landfill.

When they announced their plans to move forward with revoking the landfill’s permit, Virginia DEQ stressed that their actions “[do] not supersede or displace the judicial action” that was filed by Attorney General Mark Herring’s office in the fall of last year. When asked this summer, OAG Press Secretary Charlotte Gomer said the case “had been stayed pending the outcome of a DEQ administrative case to have CFS’ permit revoked.”

In a statement after Virginia DEQ’s actions, Meridian Waste said, “The special order and appeal process does not interfere with the company’s solid waste collection processes, contracts or the operation of the municipal solid waste transfer station located adjacent to the landfill,” adding, “CFS will continue to provide environmental services to its customers and to keep the community clean and healthy” while stressing their intent to appeal the regulatory agency’s decision.

Should something happen that would result in a change in posture for Meridian Waste in regards to its contractual relationship with Prince George and CFS’ operation of the Union Branch Road facility, Ashcraft said, “If they were to step away from that contract, they would have to come to the board [of supervisors] to agree to that.”

The county administrator continued, “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.”

The hilltops of the Tri-City Landfill, as seen from Colonial Heights’ Southpark Mall business corridor. The landfill’s hills rise above the stores and businesses that sit in the foreground of the facility. (Michael Campbell)

In 2018 after Virginia DEQ and the attorney general’s actions planned actions against the landfill were made public, Meridian Waste’s marketing director Mary O’Brien said they had significantly reduced the amount of trash being disposed at the Petersburg facility.

“We are permitted for 1,000 tons per day and currently, we have cut that by 90 percent,” O’Brien said in December of last year. “Approximately 100 tons [per day] is being disposed of at the Tri-City Landfill at this time. The other remaining is being transferred through a permitted transfer station to a separately owned CFS landfill within the state of Virginia.”

Regarding concerns from those who live and own businesses in the shadow of the landfill along and surrounding Puddledock Road, Ashcraft said he hasn’t received specific comments about the facility but he did acknowledge talk in and around the area about the strong odor that emanates from the landfill at times, sometimes reaching several miles from the site.

“We, like all residents and businesses nearby know there has been an odor occasionally but, for it being as piled up as it is, you would’ve expected maybe more of a problem,” adding residents in the county were more concerned about the Sussex County Landfill, operated by Waste Management just off U.S. Route 460 between Disputanta and Waverly, after odor issues made life miserable for some of those living a short drive away from the facility through 2017.

At last report, Meridian Waste reported they were preparing to appeal Virginia DEQ’s actions to revoke their permit, saying in part, “The landfill is a vital infrastructure asset that benefits the greater community. It has been operated in compliance with DEQ orders and regulations,” closing their statement by saying, “The company looks forward to proving this in the objective forum provided by a court of law.”

Copyright 2019 by Womack Publishing
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