Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Opinion

April 30, 2009

GUEST COLUMN: The county needs your feedback

It has been an honor to serve this district as its county commission representative and I am grateful to the opportunity to serve you. Like all of you, I am very concerned about economic development in our community and I find myself at a crossroad. I would like to tell you about a problem Cumberland County faces, give you my opinion, and then ask for your feedback. It has been brought to my attention that Crossville Mining Company has asked the Cumberland County Commission to review a proposal to build a hazardous waste dump on Smith Mountain. This proposal will be reviewed by the county commission's environmental committee on Wednesday, May 5, at 4:30 in the small courtroom.

Crossville Mining Company has proposed that they be permitted to dump ash from the Kingston disaster into a quarry in their Cumberland County mining site. Although not made public, my sources have revealed that the county will be paid at least $2 million in "load" fees if the commission approves this. In addition the coal company has promised to improve the road system leading to the quarry. About 180 dump trucks of ash a day will make its way from Kingston to Cumberland County. My sources also tell me that the trucking firm involved in the potential contract is owned by former state Senator Tommy Kilby of Morgan County.

Under the "Jackson law" once the full commission votes a yes to the proposal, the state takes over and there is no further county input to stop the company from using the quarry as a hazardous waste dump site. There are dozens of questions that should be asked and answered before a decision is made by the county. These questions include, "What else do you plan to put at the site? What levels of radiation are emitted by the ash? What risk is posed by the dust particulates to the residents in the area? How much mercury and arsenic are contained in the waste materials? What is your safety plan for dealing with problems that might occur such as the leaching of contaminants into the county's aquifer? What is the environmental impact on the area? How will road accident and spills be handled?" If approved without the appropriate information, under state law, the county has no repeal options.

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