Hamilton County Commission listens to proposed Birchwood landfill developer, opponents

Hamilton County Commission listens to proposed Birchwood landfill developer, opponents

October 12th, 2017 by Paul Leach in Local Regional News

Greg Krum, president of landfill developer Birchwood II LLC, speaks to the Hamilton County Commission about a proposed construction and demolition landfill in Birchwood. Opponents of the new landfill, dressed in green "Keep Harrison Beautiful" T-shirts, fill seats immediately behind him.

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

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Harrison residents continue to fight against a proposed 25-acre construction and demolition landfill in Birchwood.

Landfill developer Birchwood II LLC wants to build next to the city's solid waste landfill and share its road, which connects to Birchwood Pike. To go forward, the Hamilton County Commission first must rezone for industrial use the agricultural property, located on the 9000 block of Bryan Lane.

On Wednesday, commissioners listened while the developer and 30 opponents of the landfill — many dressed in bright green "Keep Harrison Beautiful" T-shirts — made their cases.

Residents said they have lived with the city landfill on the other side of a ridge, but feared having one on their side of the rise.

"Right now, I get some noise and odor pollution from the existing landfill, but I've got a big ridge that buffers it," resident Sam Wells said. "It's not too bad. If they're allowed to come over, all of the noise and the garbage and the waste will come over with it."

Some residents worry one new landfill will open the door to more.

The Harrison group presented commissioners with a petition they said bore 2,100 signatures of people opposed to the construction and demolition landfill.

Greg Krum, president of Birchwood II, said the the only other construction and demolition landfill in the county closed in March and the new facility is needed.

He dismissed concerns the site would receive toxic materials, emphasizing it would accept only construction debris.

George Hyfantis, hazardous materials consultant for Birchwood II, addressed concerns about water traveling through the landfill and picking up dangerous chemicals.

"Our leachate is going to be rather innocuous," Hyfantis said. "There's a few glues, but concentration of any bad chemicals will be very, very low."

While leachate control is not required by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation for this type of landfill, Birchwood II will "go the extra mile" and include it in the design, Hyfantis said.

Typical construction and demolition wastes include concrete, building wood, metals, drywall, glass, trees and stumps, according to Birchwood's presentation to the commission.

Commission Vice Chairwoman Sabrena Smedley questioned who would oversee dumping at the facility.

While TDEC provides overall regulatory management, the operator provides a day-to-day check on loads brought in, Hyfantis said.

"If there's a load that has something suspicious that they don't want, they send it back," he said.

Ultimately, those handling demolitions are responsible for obtaining special permits and asbestos testing, consultant Rick Sinclair said. If asbestos is present, debris must be taken to a special waste landfill in Bradley County.

"If someone brings it in and they didn't do the legal permit like they did with the demolition, we have no way of knowing," Sinclair said, citing floor and ceiling tiles made with asbestos before the 1980s as examples.

The Hamilton County Commission is scheduled to vote on the zoning issue Wednesday.

Contact staff writer Paul Leach at 423-757-6481 or pleach@times freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @pleach_tfp.


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