Residents express their desire to see it closed regardless of any potential remedies

PETERSBURG – A multitude of local residents came to Friday’s town hall at Union Train Station to express their interest in closing the Tri-City Regional Landfill regardless of any potential remedies. They cited its proximity to the Appomattox River, residential areas and an elementary school where children “have to keep the windows closed because the smell is so bad” as their reasoning to have the facility closed.

Legislators, Sen. Rosalyn Dance, D-16th, and Del. Lashrecse Aird, D-63rd, hosted the community update Friday with state representatives to update residents and offer them a chance to ask questions about the current progress of the landfill situation.

CFS Waste Management – the landfill’s owner – is currently being sued by the state for numerous violations from excess waste pile height to improper storm water control systems and the repeated failure to correct the violations in a timely manner.

The Attorney General’s office is currently seeking the maximum civil penalty for violations discovered in July and September. The maximum of which is $32,500 per violation per day until each violation is corrected.

Central Virginia Waste Management Authority Executive Director Kim Haynes announced that no amount of trash is being deposited in the Tri-City Landfill at this time. Collected trash in the region is now being diverted from a local transfer station to a landfill in Lunenburg.

“After the lawsuit came out, we required that they not put any waste collected under our contracts in that landfill until it was in compliance with state laws and regulations,” Haynes said.

She also explained that any potential revocation of the landfill’s permit to operate would not affect the transfer station. CVWMA has a bond in place to bring in another vendor to take over CFS’ collection duties on an emergency basis if CFS is compelled to cease operation.

Residents should expect an increased cost in waste utility should an outside vendor need to be brought in, according to Hayes.

Justin Williams of the Department of Environmental Quality explained that DEQ has begun the process of seeking to revoke CFS’ permit for operation.

“Earlier this week we sent a letter to the facility noticing them that we were initiating the process to revoke the solid waste permit,” Williams said. “We do have to go through a formal administrative process in order for there to be a final decision in that.”

This process involves holding a hearing in front of a Supreme Court hearing officer where DEQ would present evidence to revoke the CFS permit. Should the permit be revoked, CFS would still be responsible for maintaining the current waste pile and keeping it within regulatory parameters during the closure of the facility.

“I can’t specifically say how long that process will be,” Williams said. “It’s typically six to nine months but because we have to go through the Supreme Court hearing officer there is no guarantee as to the amount of time we must go through.”

Williams said the DEQ witnessed subsequent violations at the Tri-City Landfill in November after initial violations were observed in July and September.

CFS operates 13 other waste management properties and has not faced any such issues failing to meet regulatory benchmarks at those properties.

An officer of Meridian Waste Management who owns CFS was in attendance to take note of public input for her company.

“This has risen to the very highest levels of our company,” Mary O’Brian said. “We are taking this issue very seriously ... We want to move forward to deliver an environment and a facility that not only we can be proud of but that DEQ can be proud of and that you can be proud of. That landfill is going to be here for a long time and we hope for it to be a viable community asset.”

Meridian says it was once taking in 700 tons of waste per day until it ceased taking any trash on Nov. 26. O’Brian also maintains that Meridian is working to correct violations but are unable to act until given approval from DEQ.

“There is never a circumstance where someone has to wait on DEQ or our plans in order to come in compliance with regulations,” Williams responded. “There is also no instance, including this instance, where somebody by virtue of DEQ’s actions has not, or can not, comply with the laws and regulations.”

Dance expressed to the room-full of local residents that she was pleased that these organizations are working together to finally remedy the landfill issue. “There is more that we want to be able to tell you but that we can’t tell you because it is a lawsuit,” the senator said. “I will say that it concerns me that the other locations are doing so well. How could you get it right everywhere but right here in this particular area?”