Thursday, May 23, 2013

Council Member Gilmore says she opposes Metro Water's placement of toxic landfill in the North End

In the wake of the bad news that Metro Water, Codes and TDEC approved of a new landfill for banned chemicals near Salemtown, I wrote my council member early this morning:

CM Gilmore:

I am deeply troubled by news of Metro Nashville's unannounced, nontransparent plan to bury old water treatment building debris, laced with PCBs, lead and arsenic, down the street from my house ( and 300 yards from the Cumberland River, which in 2010 backed up through and underneath the water treatment plant and into my neighborhood before receding. Metro Water and Codes officials try to put the most publicly appealing face on this penny-pinching chemical dump. However, they admit that they intend to put a "protective cap" over the carcinogens, which seems to me to be an acknowledgment that we need protection from what they are filling the old basement with. And make no mistake: they are siting a new landfill next to Salemtown, even as they tell television reporters that they are trying to avoid siting new landfills.

I am also upset that I had to discover this information secondhand from a TV journalist instead of from Metro government, which should have been more honest and forthcoming about the extent of the contamination at the water treatment plant. As a taxpayer, as a parent, as an active, responsible neighbor, I believe that I have a right to know what kind of risk a municipal agency is posing to my community before reporters force it to be accountable.

Likewise, I am of the opinion that our council members are supposed to protect constituents from Metro departments that make decisions based more on their narrow interests in saving money and cutting corners at the expense of broader public health and welfare. In [this] spirit I would ask you, please, do whatever you can to leverage change of Metro Water's plans to create a new North Nashville landfill to bury banned toxins and carcinogens so close to my family's house and so near the Cumberland River. Please resist Metro government's historical habit of treating North Nashville as a dumping ground for the rest of the city's wastes.

At the very least, next year's budget should include a provision to pay for moving all contaminated debris from the old water plant site to an approved, regulated landfill. Metro should abide by the same rules it applies to anyone else who demolishes old buildings. The current water treatment site needs to be reclaimed and renovated for the sake of our local community and of those who rely on the Cumberland watershed. Please do what you can to make sure that revisions to the Mayor's budget include such a provision and the necessary revenues to pay for it.

Mike Byrd

Within hours Erica Gilmore replied to my email saying that she is also "very concerned" and that she "will never" support the opening of a landfill in North Nashville. She writes that she will "have monies placed in next year's budget". Good to hear that my council member is on the right side of this issue.

I hope that each of you will consider writing a letter to Metro Council, the Mayor's Office, and/or Metro Water protesting the location of a landfill next to the Cumberland River in North Nashville. Even if you do not live near my neighborhood you still would be affected by the storage of chemicals by Nashville's major water source.

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