Note: This story from Statewide Organizing for Community eMpowerment (SOCM)
Over the last several months, members of Statewide Organizing for Community eMpowerment (SOCM) have been raising concerns about an air quality permit for BFI Waste Systems' Middle Point Landfill, popularly known by some as “Mt. Trashmore.” The group is planning to mount a formal opposition at the August 22nd Public Hearing on the permit hosted by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC). The Hearing will take place at Walter Hill Elementary School, 6309 Lebanon Pike in Murfreesboro, at 6 p.m. CST.
"I am very concerned that the safety of our water supply and air quality is being compromised at the landfill,” said SOCM member and Rutherford County resident Darlene Neal. “We have to address these issues right now. We can't afford to wait. It's frightening to think that our children will inherit this mess and may be forced to get their drinking water from plastic bottles, avoid the river because of pollutants, and be at increased risk for health problems because we failed to act in a responsible and timely fashion.”
SOCM members are concerned about a lack of effective air quality testing and monitoring in the area around Mt. Trashmore, the unknown levels of pollutants being released from the operation, and poor public reporting and compliance enforcement by TDEC. Another concern is that BFI, which has been involved in poor practices at other landfills in Tennessee, has been in talks with Rutherford County officials to take over the operation of Rutherford County’s adjacent landfill.
“As residents, we need to know what is being done by our government to protect the air quality of our area,” said SOCM member and local resident Dee Butler. “It is always important to remind those responsible for keeping our air to a healthy standard that we are watching, listening, and that we care. This Public Hearing is an opportunity to do just that- listen, ask questions and voice concerns."
The Hearing is open to the public. SOCM members will have a table near the entrance of the school, talking to residents, and dispersing information about the current negative impacts the landfill has on the community. Many members are also signed up to speak at the Hearing.
“I’m going to the TDEC hearing because it’s an opportunity for the people of Rutherford County to insist that local officials and the state do the right thing and take whatever steps are necessary to safeguard our water and air, and preserve the quality of life in Rutherford,” said Neal.
SOCM - Statewide Organizing for Community eMpowerment - is a member-run organization that encourages civic involvement and collective action so that the people of Tennessee have a greater voice in determining their future. The mission of SOCM is to empower Tennesseans to protect, defend, and improve the quality of life in their communities across the state. SOCM is working for social, economic, and environmental justice for all. We are committed to the journey of becoming an anti-racist organization. Recognizing our interdependence, SOCM is committed to overcoming social and institutional racism and embracing our diverse cultures.
Casey Self, Communications Director
Statewide Organizing for Community eMpowerment (SOCM)
2507 Mineral Springs Rd., Ste. D, Knoxville, TN 37917