Regulators revoke Tri-City Landfill’s permit after repeated violations

By: Michael Campbell | Twitter: @itsthesoup
Posted: October 28, 2019 | 1:45 p.m. 

Facility operators slated to appeal decision

PETERSBURG – Nearly a year after state environmental regulators announced plans to move forward with the revocation of Petersburg’s Tri-City Regional Landfill operating permit, closure activities are expected to begin at the site after the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality confirmed the facility will no longer be accepting trash.

In a statement Wednesday, DEQ officials announced the Solid Waste Facility Permit issued to the Tri-City Regional Disposal and Recycling Center along Puddledock Road near the Petersburg-Prince George County line has been revoked following a formal hearing in June before the state’s supreme court.

“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 Wednesday.

As a result of this revocation, Virginia DEQ officials said the landfill is prohibited from accepting solid waste and their permit has been reissued solely for the purpose of “closure and providing post-closure care” of the Tri-City Landfill.

“These violations, as well as previous issues covered in Consent Orders issued by the Waste Management Board to CFS, represent a pattern of serious and repeated abuse,” said DEQ Director David Paylor. “The Commonwealth of Virginia has made it clear that non-compliance like this will not stand.”

Over the last several years, the landfill drew criticism from neighboring communities as many residents offered complaints about the odor from the facility that could, at times be detected miles away from the facility in all directions, along with questions about if the facility was operating within regulations. In the fall of 2018, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring and his office in Richmond announced that a lawsuit had been filed against CFS Group Disposal and Recycling Services for its “significant and repeated waste management violations,” which date back in some cases to December of 2014, according to state records.

“CFS repeatedly received warnings that it was in violation of the law but it continued to ignore its responsibility to protect the land, air and water around the Tri-City Landfill and failed to comply with waste management permits and regulations,” said Attorney General Herring.

Over the course of this year, The Prince George Journal made contact with officials with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality regarding the status of the case, with Ann Regn, communications manager for DEQ saying in September the case “remained stayed pending” administrative action, which took place through the summer.

Following Herring’s announcement in late 2018, Mary O’Brien, head of marketing for Meridian Waste Solutions, the parent company of CFS, was unable to speak in great detail as they prepare for the pending litigation, but she said the company has been working closely with the state to address these issues and they had significantly cut back waste coming into the facility, only accepting ten percent of what they were permitted to.

“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.”

“We will be working with and have been working with DEQ,” she continued at the time. “Meridian Waste is a new owner to the site and these are issues that date back to 2015. It is nothing new that the new owners have created, they are existing issues that we realize need to be addressed and we will certainly address them.”

Following last week’s action, the company said the decision by DEQ “ disregards the significant investment Meridian Waste has made at the Landfill since February 2017, it neglects the facility’s substantial financial impact upon the City of Petersburg, it discounts the waste needs of the localities participating in the Central Virginia Waste Management Authority, and it ignores several of the recommendations of the Administrative Hearing Officer,” confirming they have filed an appeal.

“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,” the company said Wednesday. “CFS will continue to provide environmental services to its customers and to keep the community clean and healthy.”

Hours after news of the facility’s permit being revoked, Del. Lashrecse Aird (D-63) showed support from the action taken by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality.

“The irresponsible and unethical actions by CFS (Group Disposal & Recycling Services, LLC) have been recognized and addressed today by the Commonwealth of Virginia,” she remarked. “Their failure to maintain their landfill in accordance with DEQ standards placed an undue burden on the quality of life for my constituents living within the vicinity of the landfill and it is clear that the revocation of their permit by the Commonwealth was the necessary outcome.”

According to her office, the delegate, who represents the City of Petersburg, along with Dinwiddie and portions of Chesterfield, said they will be engaging with DEQ to learn more about any future usage opportunities for the land beyond its closure and post-closure period, while also planning a community conversation regarding the landfill’s current and future status at a later date.

“This will be a long legal process that Meridian Waste is committed to winning,” the company said of their upcoming appeal efforts. “The landfill is a vital infrastructure asset that benefits the greater community. It has been operated in compliance with DEQ orders and regulations. 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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