Smell of gas tops dump concerns
Ahead of an Oct. 28 deadline for public comments, residents packed an MDEQ hearing on a proposed new landfill west of Ridgeland last week to protest the stench of an existing nearby dump, among other things.
More than 350 concerned citizens showed up at Tougaloo College to oppose the second landfill on North County Line Road. A rubbish landfill exists in the area as well, and another is proposed, but the controversy is over the household garbage dump, which would be the third in Madison County. The other is in Canton.
The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) heard from more than 40 citizens at the public hearing, which was to designed to give residents a chance to ask questions and obtain feedback on the proposed 89-acre development situated north of West County Line Road west of Tougaloo.
Only two people spoke in support of the project and both were employees of NCL Waste, LLC, the company behind the proposed landfill.
The two biggest concerns were the lawfulness of the proposed landfill within a mile of a platted subdivision and the impact of having three landfills in the county.
With 506 complaints, Atmos Energy has stopped short of saying the smell of gas was from the existing landfill, but told Ridgeland officials, "We feel confident, based on these numbers, the odor is not a result of natural gas."
Ridgeland Alderman-at-Large D.I. Smith said he was "blown away" by the community response at last Thursday's MDEQ hearing.
NCL has pledged to build a facility with a state-of-the-art gas recovery system and cover and compact six inches of soil daily to help with the stench.
Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba gave an impassioned speech in opposition to the landfill and asked MDEQ officials to look into why the city of Jackson — just 1.8 miles from the proposed site — was never notified about the new dump.
He said he heard about it from Ridgeland officials the morning of the public hearing.
"I guess now we know what it takes to unite Madison countians and Jackson residents," he said to laughter and then applause.
It is unclear at this time whether or not the turnout Thursday and the public comments will actually stall or stop the project.
The Madison County Board of Supervisors has not displayed the political will to rework its solid waste plan. Only District 2 Supervisor Trey Baxter, who had previously come out against the project, showed up to last week's hearing. He did not speak.
District III Supervisor Gerald Steen, whose represents large swathes of Ridgeland near the dump, said he could not in good conscience oppose the proposed third landfill because it would open the county up to "a lawsuit that I don't think we could win."
Ridgeland Mayor Gene McGee said Monday evening at a city board work session that he would approach the board of supervisors for a second time concerning the landfill and try to change their minds ahead of the Oct. 28 deadline for public comments.
"I am going to see if I can get them to hold a vote," McGee said.
At that same work session, Ward 1 Alderman Ken Heard asked if the mayor needed any help or support. McGee responded that he would notify aldermen before he went so that they could come if they were available.
Concerned citizens can send their comments to Trent Jones in MDEQ's solid waste permitting department at firstname.lastname@example.org.