Allegations of illegal dumping being investigated by state officials
LA VERGNE, TN (WSMV) -
An illegal dump in the city of La Vergne has been shut down, but it's raising a few eyebrows since it has allegedly been going on for years.
The property is owned by the family of a city leader who claims the property was rented to a company that is responsible for the dumping.
York Disposal workers deny dumping on the site at 486 Dick Bucchanan St. in La Vergne.
"Are you guys still dumping on the site?" a reporter asked a York Disposal worker.
"No comment," the unidentified worker said as he locked the gate to the property. "We're not dumping at all."
But La Vergne codes officials tell a different story.
"I look at it as a possible sanitary landfill and that's a big no-no," said Codes Director Randolph Salyers.
The site caught the eye of Salyers as he passed by one day back in January.
"We had noticed a lot of fill material had been brought to the site," Salyers said.
A dump truck fire at the site in February prompted the discovery of a bigger problem.
Mounds of fill material, including wood, carpet, siding and other debris, were found buried, in some areas 15 to 20 feet deep.
Several inoperable vehicles are also on the 4-acre property, including an old bus.
"It's an illegal operation, as far as I'm concerned," Salyers said.
There were cattails growing, a sign that codes officials believe could be a small wetland.
Hydraulic fluid may have also seeped into the ground, according to city codes.
"Liquids had already been seeping out of some of the containers that were up there, the garbage truck that was up there and just the smell of household garbage was just unbearable," the codes director said.
The Department of Environmental and Conservation was called in to investigate.
"A certified letter dated June 12, 2014, was sent to Mr. Jerry York, owner of York Disposal, Inc. from TDEC's Division of Solid Waste Management," TDEC Communications Director Kelly Brockman wrote in an email.
"The letter presented the observations TDEC staff made during their site investigation performed (in conjunction with the City of La Vergne's codes department) on May 30, 2014, and also included two requirements from TDEC," Brockman wrote. "These requirements included that dumping at the site cease and all exposed waste on the surface must be removed to a permitted disposal facility. Documentation of material relocation is required to be provided within 30 days of the receipt of the letter."
The property is owned by John Waldron, the father of La Vergne City Alderman and mayoral candidate Dennis Waldron.
Channel 4 News spoke with the alderman by phone, who said his father rented the property to York Disposal for storage of its vehicles, and not as a dumping ground.
"That leads us to believe there may have been some material that was buried that should not have been buried at all," Salyers said.
City codes officials said TDEC will be bringing in heavy equipment to do three test pits on the site to make sure no household garbage is dumped on the property.
"The second requirement is for Mr. York to contact the Nashville Field Office within 14 days of letter receipt to discuss the proper method to assess whether waste materials are incorporated in site fill soils but are not exposed at the surface," Brockman wrote. "As of today, neither Mr. York nor any representative of Mr. York are known to have contacted TDEC. If we do not hear from Mr. York or a representative this week, we will then turn the matter over to DSWM enforcement."
A DSWM inspector was supposed to be stopping by the site on Monday to determine whether any of the waste materials have been removed from the property, according to TDEC officials.
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