JACKSBORO—Monday night, the Campbell County Commission voted to oppose a landfill Davis Creek Energy, LLC and Ketchen Land Company, Inc. have proposed operating in the Duff Community.
“I know we have no control over what Ketchen does,” Commissioner Steve Rutherford said. However, Rutherford said the commission could present a united front against the landfill by voting to not support it.
Former commissioner Melvin Boshears urged the commission to oppose the landfill if it didn’t benefit Campbell County.
Ten commissioners voted to oppose the project, which is slated to be near Westbourne. Commissioners David Adkins, Marie Ayers and Bob Walden abstained from voting, and Commissioners Bobby White and Wendell Bailey were absent.
Nat Cloer, President of Ketchen Land Company and Managing Member of Davis Creek Energy, believes the landfill is good for Campbell County.
“This is a good thing,” Cloer said. “It helps the environment. It creates jobs.”
The landfill would generate 15 jobs, not including the construction phase, according to George Hyfantis, an engineer who works for Ketchen and Davis Creek.
The county would also receive a host fee, Cloer said.
The landfill Ketchen Land Company and Davis Creek Energy hope to operate in Duff would be their first.
Davis Creek Energy applied for a permit for a Class 1 landfill — which can hold municipal solid waste and coal combustion products. However, the company wants to store coal ash in the landfill, Cloer said.
Cloer said the amount of money Davis Creek and Ketchen are putting into the preparation for the landfill would be overkill for only storing municipal solid waste.
He wants to bring coal ash from power plants — by railroad — to the landfill.
There is some risk in transporting ash.
“That doesn’t mean there will be a problem,” said John Johnston, Environmental Protection Agency Branch Chief. “There’s always some level of risk with transportation.”
There is no increased risk because ash is being transported, Johnston said. But traveling carries risks.
The landfill would hold dry ash, which is stored differently than the wet ash that spilled in Kingston in 2008.
“The physical and chemical nature of the coal ash and gypsum is not unique and would not present an increased hazard when co-managed with municipal solid waste in a permitted Class 1 landfill,” said Shannon Ashford, Communications Officer with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation.
In Kingston, wet ash — which was stored in water was released into the rivers when a berm, which is a dam-like structure, broke.
Dry ash is handled differently than wet ash.
“Most folks don’t have any idea how a landfill is operated,” Johnston said.
TDEC approves permits for landfills, ensuring they are designed, constructed and managed in a way that there are no releases.
“So, disposal itself should not create a hazard,” Johnston said.
Landfills are built in individual cells. These cells are covered daily. The cover would protect the ash from rainfall and wind.
A system of drains would remove any rain that infiltrates the landfill. The water would drain to holding tanks at the bottom of the landfill, and eventually be treated at a wastewater treatment facility. Any surface runoff would be stored in a holding pond and eventually evaporate, according to Rick Nipper, manager of Poplar View Landfill in Knoxville.
Also, water would be sprayed — not enough to turn the ash into wet ash — as a “dust suppression” measure.
“The greatest concern would be dust generation in the immediate vicinity during waste placement at the working face of the landfill,” Ashford said. “Which is why landfills are required to make provisions for dust management, when appropriate.”
Coal ash can contain many different substances — such as lead, mercury, arsenic, selenium, cadmium, nickel and even radioactive material. If the ash was released during a wreck, or if somebody working on-site were to come into contact with it, there could be health risks.
Ultimately, the authority to approve or deny Ketchen Land Company and Davis Creek Energy the ability to operate the landfill in Duff lies with TDEC.
At the Aug. 11 workshop, Commissioner Terry Singley asked if the commission had the authority to prevent the landfill from operating, and Mayor William Baird said it doesn’t.