Monday, June 08, 2009

Smith Mountain Solutions Wants Ash In Abandoned Mine

Smith Mountain Solutions, LLC has submitted a proposal for a subtitle D landfill "beneficial re-use" project to the Cumberland County Commission. The proposed project is designed to place coal combustion products (fly ash) as fill for the purpose of reclamation of approximately 300 acres of a surface coal mining operation at 6728 Smith Mountain Rd., Crab Orchard. Wright Brothers Construction, Inc. is based in Charleston, TN and is the owner of Smith Mountain Solutions, LLC.

The Center opposes the Smith Mountain Solutions, LLC proposal.

The ash would be coming from Roane County and the company has requested the county begin the permitting process under the Jackson Law. The purpose of the hearing is to fill part of the requirements of the Jackson Law and allows county commissioners to review the project and get public input and reaction to the project.

The Jackson Law [Dennis Huffer Legal Opinion] requires local approval by the county and the municipality, if any, in which a landfill is to be located that will accept municipal and county solid waste and household garbage. This law also establishes procedures for the granting of this approval. This law is a local option law for the county or municipality in question, and I will assume for purposes of this opinion that it has been locally approved by the applicable jurisdictions. The operative provision of this law that provides an exception from these requirements for private landfills is T.C.A. § 68-211-706(a):

The provisions of this part shall not apply to any private landfill which accepts solid waste solely generated by its owner and does not accept county or municipal solid waste or ordinary household garbage.

The landfill in question is proposed as a joint venture between Company A and Company B. It will accept only solid waste generated by these companies. It will not receive solid waste from any other source, including the county or municipality or households.
At a recent hearing, hundreds attended and most opposed the proposal.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has signed an enforceable agreement with the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) to oversee the removal of the coal ash at the TVA Kingston Fossil Fuel Plant in Roane County, where more than five million cubic yards of coal ash spilled. Under the Administrative Order and Agreement on Consent (order), which was entered into under the Superfund law, EPA will oversee the cleanup and TVA will reimburse EPA for its oversight costs. This is the real reason behind Smith Mountain Solutions, LLC's proposal. They want the Kingston, Tennessee fly ash.

The terms of the EPA order require that the disposal of coal ash from the spill meet specific protective disposal standards for landfills, such as synthetic liners, leachate collection systems and groundwater monitoring. The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) has said the fly ash is not toxic unless it is airborne or if it comes in contact with groundwater drinking supplies.

Wright Brothers Construction, Inc. and Smith Mountain Solutions, LLC started the meeting saying that Hillsborough Resources Limited has reported it has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Wright Brothers Construction, Inc. with respect to the sale of Crossville Coal, Inc. The sale is subject to Wright Brothers securing the contract for fly ash disposal on the Crossville mine site with TVA.

The Smith Mountain Solutions proposal at the hearing included eight main points on how the project was in compliance with the Jackson Law and how the project would be a benefit to the county and environment:

1) Coal Combustible Products, CCPs, would be the only product going into the reclamation project and it would be overseen by the TVA, EPA and TDEC. It would be a monofill landfill.
2) The method of transport would be dump trucks, which would be covered with tarps preventing any fly ash from becoming airborne.
3) The project would not produce any odor because there would be no garbage and CCPs do not have an odor. Noise will not be a major issue at Smith Mountain Solutions. 4) Impact on property values will not be negative and a study of the property values of 117 parcels of real estate indicate the values of property have increased at a rate of 16 percent.5) Smith Mountain Rd. will be improved to handle the additional volume of truck traffic on the road. A tip fee of 50 cents per ton will go to the Cumberland County Road Department fund to maintain Smith Mountain Rd.
6) Economic impact will be a benefit to the county because Smith Mountain Solutions will create approximately 100 jobs. These jobs will be mainly for truck drivers and heavy equipment operators. Tip fees will be paid to the county: $1.50 per cubic yard would be paid to Cumberland County. That could easily total more than $5 million going into the county's general fund at a rate of approximately $1.6 million per year.
7) It would be a facility for fly ash and not a surface mine and operations would not be inconsistent with existing land uses.
8) The monofill would be operated within all current and future local, state and federal regulations, according to the proposal.

Letters to the Cumberland County Commission regarding the project will be accepted until Monday, June 15, at 4:30 p.m.The full county commission will meet June 15 at 7 p.m. and a discussion regarding the proposal is on the agenda. The meeting will be in the large courtroom of the Cumberland County Courthouse. The public is welcome to attend. (Crossville Chronicle, 6/4/09)

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