Landfill killed at MDEQ hearing


A new law giving voters the say in new landfill construction was a deciding factor in the the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality denying five outstanding permits for a proposed site west of Ridgeland, officials said.

MDEQ’s denial was the “final nail in the coffin,” said Ridgeland Alderman-at-Large D.I. Smith, one of the leaders of the landfill opposition who was present for the decision before the MDEQ Permit Board on Tuesday. 

Smith said that the governor’s signature on House Bill 949 in March virtually ensured that the issue was dead as it required a referendum vote to build the landfill. Tuesday’s decision put the issue to rest for good, he said.

“This was the coup de grâce,” Smith said. “After HB 949 you could have said the project was dead but now it is dead, dead, dead with a dagger in its heart.”

Smith said the board “did what was right” and unanimously denied five permit requests from NCL Waste LLC for the proposed North County Line landfill. 

Smith said the board heard reasoning from MDEQ staff to deny public comment from one resident opposing the landfill and a lawyer for the city of Ridgeland. Smith said that no one from NCL spoke at the meeting though they did submit a letter asking the board to table to the discussion.

“It was fairly straightforward,” Smith said.

The board denied requests for a solid waste management permit, air permit to construct, an NPDES stormwater permit, waster water pretreatment permit and a 401 Water Quality Certification.

MDEQ spokesman Robbie Wilbur said that HB 949 was a deciding factor in the board’s decision to deny the outstanding permits. 

“As a result of the adoption of House Bill 949 during the Mississippi Legislature’s 2021 Regular Session, and at the recommendation of MDEQ staff, the Mississippi Environmental Quality Permit Board voted to deny the existing environmental permit applications previously submitted by NCL Waste, LLC for a proposed municipal landfill,” Wilbur said.

Smith said that squashing this proposed landfill was the result of the efforts of many people.

“This was a huge community effort,” Smith said. “This is the result of thousands of people making calls and sending emails and text messages to their friends and our state governing officials to show that we are not going to take this anymore. I was honored to be a small part of this effort.”

The Mississippi House of Representatives took the final legislative step approving a measure 107-3 to concur with the State Senate on House Bill 949 giving voters the say. Gov. Tate Reeves signed the bill into law at the new Ridgeland City Hall on Wednesday, March 10.

Aside from opposing the landfill for aesthetic reasons, Ridgeland officials see the landfill as an impediment to the future growth of the city, particularly, the city's West County Line Road annexation which was final and effective on Thursday, March 4.

The fight goes back to 1998 when the Madison County Board of Supervisors, under David Richardson’s leadership, rezoned the site to allow for another dump.

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