As Middle Tennessee rapidly runs out of places to dump its trash, one company is eyeing a possible alternative in Maury County, just outside the city limits of Columbia, TN. The proposal by Trinity Business Group would bring a massive set of operations to the rural area: a tire shredding facility, construction and municipal waste processing plants and an incinerator that would burn non-recyclable materials to generate electricity.
But the plans, submitted to state environmental regulators in June, have received no public scrutiny – or notice to the surrounding community that would be impacted by 18-wheeler traffic, construction, potential air and water quality hazards and the large-scale physical plants necessary for such an operation. The proposed site of the operation raises other concerns for local residents: for decades the Monsanto Chemical Company mined phosphorous, produced fertilizer and — for a time — manufactured chemical warfare agents for the U.S. government at the 5,300 acre location. “These activities resulted in stability issues and the generation and placement of contamination across the site,” state regulators have noted. The property is now home to four Superfund sites, a designation given by the federal government to property containing hazardous substances harmful to human health for generations to come.
“There’s been no communication about what’s being planned out there,” said Gale Moore, a longtime Maury County resident. The company’s plans are outlined in its June permit applications to the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC). The proposal comes as Middle Tennessee landfills are nearing the end of their lifespans, and city and county officials, and private companies, cast about for alternatives.