“I’m excited that Allied (Waste, Middle Point’s parent company,) did it voluntarily,” Sen. Jim Tracy said about Monday’s announcement. “I think they listened to the legislative delegation and the citizens of Rutherford County.”
State Rep. John Hood explained Rutherford County’s legislative delegation, which included himself, state Senators Jim Tracy and Bill Ketron, and state Represenatives Curt Cobb, Kent Coleman and Donna Rowland, met with Middle Point officials on several occasions to requested a voluntary end to participation in the program.
Middle Point complied with the request.
“Based on (the legislative delegation’s) request, as well as listening closely to other of our fellow community members, we are today voluntarily discontinuing acceptance of BSFR waste into Middle Point landfill,” said John Doyen, general manager of Middle Point Landfill.
The Municipal Solid Waste Advisory Committee had concluded earlier Monday the BSFR program, which allows dumping of low-level radioactive waste in commercial landfills, “is safe for human health and the environment.”
The committee’s decision ended a General Assembly mandated study into the safety of the program. Several public hearings were held during the study period where citizens of Rutherford County expressed their outrage about the program and mistrust in the state program, as well as Middle Point Landfill.
“They heard loud and clear from the delegation what we wanted for the public. I think they made a good decision, a wise decision to do that,” Tracy said.
But Citizens to End Nuclear Dumping in Tennessee (ENDIT) is worried that it is only a temporary decision.
“If it is voluntary, then they can resume it,” ENDIT co-founder Kathleen Ferris said. “It was a good tactical move on their part to avoid more restrictive legislation.”
Althoug Tracy is developing legislation to end all radioactive waste disposal in the state, he doesn’t believe Allied Waste would risk taking the waste again.
“People are going to watch it now. They’ve got other locations where they can dump (the waste) …,” Tracy said about the four other Tennessee landfills that accept BSFR waste.
“We’re going to watch it,” he continued. “It’s a very, very important issue to the people of Rutherford County.”
Ferris said ENDIT will continue to follow the situation at Middle Point and keep the public involved.
“I think the problem will be that the public furor will die down. … We need to keep the spotlight on what is going on there,” Ferris said.
Michelle Willard can be contacted at 869-0816 or firstname.lastname@example.org.