In the meantime, to learn a little more about what is going on with landfills and environmental issues in the Southeast — and who, if anyone, is doing anything about it — Pith spoke to one of the many environmental activists who attended the hearing in Camden on July 26: Bruce Wood, president of the Nashville environmental group BURNT (Bring Urban Recycling to Nashville Today).
BURNT has been active in Nashville since 1988, when they succeeded in their first project: helping to stop the city’s $250 million expansion of the downtown garbage-burning incinerator and proposed $100 million solid-waste processor. The incinerator, otherwise known as the Thermal Transfer Plant, was located near Riverfront Park, between First Avenue and the Cumberland River. As Wood sees it, had the plant not been closed, downtown would be a different place today.
“Closing this long-term polluter led to incredible, lucrative development of MetroCenter and downtown, including the Titans Stadium," Wood says. "This growth would not [have] happened if foul meat-processing odors blanketed downtown and MetroCenter.”
BURNT’s mission includes “improving the environment through citizen involvement with government, business, and academia.” Since 1991, BURNT has fought against solid waste pollution, landfills, chemical contamination and environmental injustice, promoting a toxin-free environment for Nashville through activism related to clean air, water, recycling and pesticide reform. The organization has also worked closely with the Sierra Club and the NAACP to fight the disproportionate amount of pollution and waste that migrates to mostly poor, minority and rural areas.
In addition, BURNT has worked on stopping multiple landfills in Tennessee including the construction of the Ashland City highway and Bells Bend landfills, along with one in Dickson County and Jackson.
"We learned early on that solid waste is a water issue because all landfills leak," Wood says. "We opposed the 1996 state legislation which counts construction waste placed in Class III landfills as recycled. Tennessee is the only state that does this.”
BURNT hopes the documentary, once finished, will eventually air on PBS and be entered into film festivals around the country. The project may include footage taken at Tuesday’s hearing in Camden.
Speaking of which: The public is invited to submit written comments concerning the expansion of the Benton County landfill to Mike Apple, director of TDEC's Division of Solid Waste Management, until 4:30 p.m. Aug. 15 — at which point we might get wind of any new decisions that are made.
Alex Becker, a student at Skidmore College, is a Scene summer intern.