THE HUNTER REPORT
MAJOR ENVIRONMENTAL BREACH
NOVEMBER 2, 2010
EXTRA PERSONNEL AND EQUIPMENT MOBILIZED 24/7 AT LOUDON COUNTY LANDFILL SITE - MATLOCK BEND
"SIZEABLE" SLIDE 100,000 CUBIC YARDS 4.1 ACRES
November 11, 2010
By: PAT HUNTER
Tuesday's Nov. 9, 2010 Loudon County Solid Waste Commission meeting began with routine business of minute approval and an amendment to the minutes because of an error in member attendance last month.
The landfill operator Santek Environmental, Cherly Dunson VP of Marketing, also serves as secretary. She gave a report on the finances and operations of the landfill. Dunson noted that waste tonnage was higher than normal, in part due to Tate and Lyle sludge in the month of October. The customer activity report disclosed no new customers. The October waste tonnage accepted was 13,062.27 with 2,103 tons from Waste Services, a company that transports Tate and Lyle sludge. Tate & Lyle's waste has two waste streams, fly ash and sludge. Waste from DuPont Tate & Lyle BioProducts also goes to the Matlock Bend landfill.
At first glance there was no mention of a major slide on the Agenda nonetheless the topic came up for discussion during public comment period after a citizen asked if the slide at the landfill would be discussed and she requested reserving her questions during that discussion period and Chairman Fields agreed.
Cheryl Dunson informed the Solid Waste Commission and public of an "incident" that possibly occurred Tuesday (Nov. 2nd) evening. Dunson said the "incident" was self reported to TDEC (Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation) on Nov. 3, 2010 Wednesday morning. A slope failed in Module G estimated at 100,000 cubic yards, 4.1 acre site. The landfill is located at 21712 Hwy. 72 N., Loudon, TN. On Nov. 5, 2010, TDEC sent paperwork with the V-2 Notice of Violation for a wash out of solid waste. Because it happened at night there were no injuries.
Matt Dillard VP of Operations for Santek Environmental Corp. and Dr. Robert (Bob) Bachus were in attendance to address any technical questions.
According to Cheryl Dunson, Dillard mobilized equipment and extra personnel to the landfill site working around the clock 24/7 to move waste that went off liner. That was estimated at 15,000 cubic yards.
Dunson notified LCSWDC Chairman Steve Field about the incident.
As of Tuesday Nov. 9th the county landfill was back on line according to Santek personnel Matt Dillard.
Until an investigation is conducted, Dunson could not tell why the slope failed.
Dunson commented I have been in the landfill business for twenty three years and this is the first I have ever seen of this. Matt Dillard echoed the same sentiment that he had been in the landfill business for twenty five years and that he had not seen anything like this before. There's a reason why this happened and now we have to get to the bottom of that, Dunson stated.
Cheryl Dunson also informed the Solid Waste Commission how they had met with the Chattanooga Field office and that Tate & Lyle's sludge was being diverted to the Bradley County Landfill. Dunson explained how Tate and Lyle management was fine with the arrangement as long as it did not impact their plant. Santek "will eat that additional cost". Santek trucks would take the sludge waste to Bradley County. Dunson does not know at this time whether they will have to divert waste streams. Waste Services (waste collection) is a subsidiary of Santek Environmental, Inc.
Dunson spoke how a third party engineer was hired to evaluate why this slope failed. Dr. Robert Bachus was introduced. According to a website search he is with Geosyntech Consultants, Atlanta, GA. Dr. Bachus gave some background information. He is a geotechnical engineer with 35 years of experience, 25 years experience in solid waste and he investigates landfill failures. He is part of the team investigating the TVA Kingston failure. He has a good working relationship with TDEC and he listens to what they want and explain concerns.
The slope failure was described by Dr. Bachus as "Sizeable" problem. What Dr. Bachus observed at the site was that he felt that Santek was doing the right thing. If you look at the photograph, what used to be a 4 to 1 slope is now a 10 to 1 and the toe of the slope has gone over a un-lined area. The strategy is finding out if the slide damaged the liner as well as finding out the cause and how to rebuild the area or go over that area. One issue is that if you put a material on the top of the grades and keep them pretty flat this may not be a problem but if you reconstruct to previous grades there may be a problem in the future. One preliminary possibility may be the sludge; this may be a contributing factor. Many landfill failures have to do with water. Whatever the cause did it impact the liner system, Bachus said. The assessment will also include looking at the waste streams. If its related to sludge there should be a sludge management strategy that can be implemented that will minimize the potential.
Is the sludge wet, asked a Solid Waste Commissioner. Dillard spoke about receiving sludge from Kimberly Clark and Tate and Lyle. There is some moisture but it is not very wet. He described that consistency of one waste that was similar to toothpaste or peanut butter but no liquid. Our permit with TDEC excludes liquids said Chairman Field; special waste is also tested for moisture content and if it does not pass it is not eligible for the landfill.
Solid Waste Commissioner Robert Harrison asked about the slide location. He was shown a larger site plan. Its on the side where the storm water pond exists. Its actually part of Module G on the upper side. He wanted to make sure that it was not on the Monterey site. It was on adjacent to the future cell that is scheduled to be used in 2015. When the slope failed, the waste was moved into that empty cell.
A Matlock Bend resident, Aileen Longmire relayed her concerns. She spoke that she had received calls from neighbors that heard an explosion that raddled windows. Harrison pressed Longmire to disclose details but she mentioned that she did not want to speak for the citizens who were not present to speak for themselves. I hope you can understand that she said.
Longmire pressed on, could this be associated with whatever broke loose? Was there damage to the landfill liner? Dr. Bachus thought that it might be something related to the movement when the slide started to move. He had heard that before when it came to the largest slide in the US and he said it sounded like a slow moving train. The bottom is where it started said Dillard. Did you see any signs before the slide Longmire asked. On Tuesday, we did notice a crack in the slope but in the past we were able to take care of that, Dillard told Longmire. Longmire also asked which waste had more moisture? Do you want to take a stab at that Field asked the others; it may be the toothpaste stuff from Tate & Lyle.
A Compliance Review Meeting with regulators was scheduled for November 10, 2010 at the Knoxville TDEC field office at 10:00 A.M. to address the V-2 Violation. LCSWDC Chairman Steve Field and Santek personnel would have an opportunity to discuss the alleged violations and explain how the Loudon County Solid Waste Commission and Santek would meet compliance regulations and make sure that this does not happen again.
The Solid Waste Commission is comprised of county and Lenoir and Loudon City representatives including Steve Field (Chairman), John Watkins, Bill Waldop (Tellico Village), Jim Akins, Robert Harrison (Loudon City), Ted Sitzler, and April Patterson (absent). Also present but slightly late was solid waste attorney Bud Gilbert with Kennerly, Montgomery & Finley. Gilbert is also the attorney for the Tellico Village Property Owners Association. Gordon Harless was also absent. Although he is not a member of the Solid Waste Commission, he is in charge of the Loudon County Convenience Centers and recycling program, Loudon County Animal Shelter, and Homeland Security.
Someone asked if any officials were informed about the waste slide and Chairman Field replied that he had spoken to County Mayor Estelle Herron. Strangely enough, there was no public disclosure of the slide to officials, public, and press, on Nov. 8th when County Mayor Herron hosted a County-Lenoir-Loudon public meeting on open government. All three government entities also send waste to the Loudon County Sanitary landfill.
The Solid Waste Commission voted not to adjourn but to reconvene this meeting on November 23, 2010, 6:30 PM Annex, if the meeting room is available.