Waste Management officials address board on oil spill debris

Published 1:59 pm Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Supervisor Sandy Kane Smith told four Waste Management officials on Monday that Pearl River County doesn’t own any “ocean-front property,” and, therefore, he wanted to know what the company’s plans are for dumping “oil-spill debris” in Central Landfill because his constituents had been calling him, wanting to know, too.

Waste Management’s Market Area Engineer Dan Ball told Smith and other supervisors that Waste Management, which owns and runs Central Landfill at Millard, right now does not have plans to dump “oil-spill debris” at the Millard site.

However, Ball said that there are “contingency plans” that could see Central Landfill used as a disposal point. He said things could change. He said that Central landfill had been evaluated as one of the possible sites the waste could be taken.

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In addition, Billy Warden, chief of Mississippi’s Dept. of Environmental Quality’s solid waste and mining branch, told supervisors that Waste Management and BP’s paperwork for allowing oil spill debris to be dumped at the Millard site is in order and that DEQ would not stop them from using the Central Landfill if they chose to do so. Warden’s agency monitors landfill companies.

Besides Ball, three other Waste Management officials, also attended the Monday supervisors’ session: Landfill manager Justin Page, manager of government and community affairs Rene Faucheux and environmental manager Mark Noel.

Said Smith to Ball, “We feel bad about what’s going on down there along the Coast, but we don’t have any ocean-front property in Pearl River County that I know of; we just think that they need to deal with it down there. . . What I want to know is if any of this stuff can slip in here without us knowing it.”

Ball said it could not. He said Waste Management tracks by computer each load of refuse, and knows where it is going. “All of it is tracked. We know where it is coming from and where it is going. There is a paper trail . . . regardless of from where it comes,” he told Smith and the board.

“There is none (oil-spill waste) coming to the Central Landfill right now,” said Ball. “Right now there is no economic value in bringing any of it to Central Landfill. All of it, what little there is, is going to Pecan Grove landfill in Harrison County.”

Added Ball, “It is just more feasible right now and closer to the site at this time to use Pecan Grove. Right now we have no plans to use Central Landfill. But that could change tomorrow.”

Asked supervisor Hudson Holliday: “I think what most people want to know is, is this landfill (Central) certified to accept the kind of waste you would bring in from the Coast?”

Replied Ball, “Yes, it is certified to bring in that type of waste.”

Said Noel, “What with all the paper trails and computer monitoring, I feel sure in asserting to you that there is no way that any of this debris could slip through the cracks and wide up in the Central landfill unauthorized.”

Private resident Bob Willcut asked Ball what was the difference between a quart of oil, which is not allowable in Central landfill, and the oil patties and blobs being picked up along the Coast. Ball said consistency, that no oil in a liquid condition could be dumped into Central Landfill.

The concern in Pearl River County began last week when Trudy Fisher, DEQ director, told reporters that she could not stop Waste Management from using landfills in Pearl River and Harrison counties to dispose of BP debris because the company’s paperwork was in order and that the debris they planned to dump was tested and ruled nonhazardous.

What is termed hazardous material cannot be dumped at Pecan Grove or at the Millard site, by state law. The landfills are not permitted to receive hazardous material.

Her statement set off alarm bells here.

Supervisors on July 6 passed an order directing that a letter be drafted and sent to Waste Management, BP and DEQ requesting full disclosure on what was proposed to be dumped into the Millard landfill and when.

However, on Wednesday supervisor and board president Anthony Hales told the press that he had talked to Waste Management officials and they had agreed to come to the Monday board meeting and tell supervisors what they knew was going on.

In the meantime, last Wednesday Waste Management began taking “oil-spill debris” to the Harrison County landfill named Pecan Grove. Harrison County supervisors said they did not want the debris dumped at Pecan Grove, whether it was deemed nonhazardous or not. They asked the governor and Fisher to block it.

Harrison County supervisors had requested officials from Waste Management to come before that board, but received no reply. The Harrison County supervisors then subpoenaed the officials to appear before the board on July 26 to answer questions.