Dinwiddie closely monitoring Tri-City Landfill shutdown impacts

By: Michael Campbell | Twitter: @itsthesoup
Posted: February 19, 2020 | 1:30 p.m.

More CFS trucks, increased litter seen along U.S. Route 460

DINWIDDIE – It has been roughly four months since state environmental regulators moved to shut down the Tri-City Landfill in Petersburg, the primary waste disposal facility for the region, including Dinwiddie and Prince George County and local leaders have kept a close eye on the landfill operator’s efforts to re-open and what effects its closure has had on local residents and its potential impacts going forward.

In an interview, Dinwiddie County Administrator Kevin Massengill said he has been in “constant conversation” with Container First Services, the Petersburg landfill operators and subsidiary of Meridian Waste, about the facility and how they are working to address state regulators’ requirements to remove several feet of waste from the tops of the landfill and truck it to another approved facility in Lunenburg County.

The Tri-City Landfill along Puddledock Road near the border of Prince George County and the City of Petersburg has been prohibited from taking in waste since mid-October of 2019 when the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality moved to revoke the facility’s solid waste permit.

“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 environmental regulators said at the time.

Through their action, CFS is currently barred from intaking trash at the Petersburg landfill, with their permit being reissued solely to allow for “closure and post-closure care” activities.

DEQ’s enforcement action came on the heels of legal action one year earlier in the form of a lawsuit filed by Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring in the fall of 2018. The suit alleged the landfill and its operators committed “significant and repeated waste management violations,” among other claims by the state dating back to 2014.

In October, state regulators moved to revoke the Tri-City Landfill’s solid waste permit, effectively ending the facility’s operations. As the owners work to comply with state demands, their efforts have now resulted in an increase in CFS trucks traveling through the county hauling trash. (File Image)

Since October, those who frequent the area where the Tri-City Landfill is located, made up of a mix of commercial, residential, and light industrial clientele in Petersburg, Colonial Heights, and Prince George, heavy machinery has been a fixture at the top of the landfill’s land masses as those units unearth buried trash and load it onto trucks for transport to Lunenburg County, roughly 60 miles southeast of the city.

That activity is part of the state’s enforcement action against the landfill and, according to Meridian Waste Chief Marketing Officer Mary O’Brien, they are ensuring that work is done while they appeal the shutdown order.

In January, O’Brien told The Dinwiddie Monitor that those trucks “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, while stressing the ramifications if that request is denied.

“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.

According to Massesngill, activity is already picking up in Dinwiddie County as those CFS trucks travel to the Lunenburg landfill by way of U.S. Route 460, an intersection that has been under the microscope of drivers and local officials for the last year following a series of crashes and a VDOT proposal to reconfigure New Cox Road’s intersection with Courthouse Road.

Given concerns about safety at the crossroads and an expected increase in heavy-vehicle traffic from CFS as they truck materials from Petersburg to Lunenburg, Massengill said they are keeping a close watch on how the situation unfolds with the Tri-City Landfill.

“We know we have a challenge at the intersection of Courthouse Road and [U.S. Route] 460,” he said. “Now there is the potential for a significant increase in trucks. We have heard numbers of 100-plus or more CFS dump trucks having to use that route everyday to comply with the consent order.”

Massengill continued, “The immediate issue associated with this is physically taking it from point A to point, knowing that one of the intersections that people have to traverse is one of the most challenged in Dinwiddie County’s system that we have yet to come to a conclusion on what needs to happen there.”

A side effect that has seemed to crop up since CFS’ efforts to follow the state’s requirements has been litter, with Massengill saying they are beginning to see an increase in trash accumulating along the edges of the roadway.

“We have seen a significant increase in litter along 460,” the county administrator revealed. “Now we are having to work with the sheriff’s office to get the litter cleaned up on 460. And when you get that many dump trucks headed to Lunenburg, you are going to have more trash that blows out inadvertently so, that is an indirect issue but an issue nonetheless.”

The county is also monitoring what impacts the landfill’s closure could have on Dinwiddie’s bottom line given the contractual relationship the county has with CFS.

In January, O’Brien told The Dinwiddie Monitor that waste collection and disposal rates in Dinwiddie, Prince George, and the Tri-Cities “can be expected to significantly increase” during the next bid cycle due to the fact the closest landfill to the region is close and that trash now has to be hauled 60 miles away to Lunenburg. 

The same was verbalized to Massengill in his conversation with CFS.

“They have indicated to us that the county could see an increase in costs but, we have not gotten the specifics of what that looks like yet,” he said, noting he and other leaders of communities served by the landfill were set to meet with the governor’s office to get a better understanding of the ongoing actions against the landfill, stressing their intent isn’t to lobby for or against the facility’s closure.

With the Tri-City Landfill no longer able to accept trash, that material, along with buried trash being unearthed at the Petersburg facility in compliance with state orders is being trucked to Lunenburg by way of U.S. Route 460 in Dinwiddie. According to county officials, there has been an increase in litter along the roadway. (Michael Campbell)

“This is more about doing more fact-finding and due diligence so we can have a better appreciation of the matter,” Massengill added. “We feel like we are hearing CFS’ side of the story but, we, as regional administrators, also need to understand the state’s rationale into what they are doing.”

“Ultimately,” he continued, “it is our taxpayers who will have to potentially pay the costs so I think this is important for the counties. At the end of the day, it may not be CFS or Dinwiddie County but it is going to be the taxpayer that is going to have to pay the difference. People have to be paid to come into compliance with whatever restrictions are being put in by the state so”

“We feel like, as regional managers, it was prudent to request the meeting as the holders of contracts in this region with CFS to gain a better appreciation as to what is happening, expectations of remediation, how do they fix it and what is the length of time and the process involved,” Massengill added.

According to the county administrator, through its contract with the CFS, the company primarily picks up compacted trash and household waste at the Dinwiddie’s near-dozen manned waste sites, which are staffed by county employees. In addition, CFS is also contractually obligated to pick up trash at municipal facilities in Dinwiddie, including the county’s schools.

Dinwiddie entered into that contract with CFS last spring and it can be renewed annually for up to five years, Massengill detailed.

At the end of the day, the county administrator believes the ongoing regulatory action being levied against the landfill carries ramifications across the region served by the facility.

“Not only was the consent order limiting the height of what was existing at the landfill, it also precluded from doing additional sales,” he said. “So that limits the region’s landfill space because if you already had landfill space that was approved by DEQ and now that has been revoked at that particular location, that trash has to go somewhere.”

“For Dinwiddie, it is closer for CFS to go to Lunenburg and our trash was going to Lunenburg anyway but if I am Hopewell, now my trash has to go to Lunenburg. Is there a cost to Hopewell now because, when they did this originally, they didn’t have to go all the way to Lunenburg but, it is a bit different for us.”

Copyright 2020 by Womack Publishing
Send Us Your News Tips 

Leave a Reply