MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WKRN) — The City of Murfreesboro has filed a federal lawsuit against Republic Services Incorporated and two of its subsidiaries regarding the Middle Point Landfill (MPL).
The city has received over 2,000 complaints about the landfill since it launched its online complaint portal last September.
The lawsuit alleges that between September 2021 and late April 2022 alone, over 2,000 odor complaints from the community surrounding the landfill have been reported to the city of Murfreesboro.
MPL is located a few hundred feet from Murfreesboro’s corporate limits and is immediately across the East Fork Stones River from the Walter Hill Recreation Area, which is a public park that the city owns and operates.
Thousands of Murfreesboro residents live within a few miles of the landfill.
To resident Valerie Alexander, the legal fight doesn’t matter. She is done with having most of Middle Tennessee’s trash smelling up her home.
“They’ve got to move the landfill seriously because it’s harming us water-wise and smell-wise and that’s it,” she said. “I don’t even drink the water here. I don’t cook with the water here. I use bottled water. I don’t even give the dog that water that’s how bad it is.”
The noxious odors are also affecting nearby schools, places of worship, businesses and various city-owned facilities and public infrastructure, according to the lawsuit.
In February, an outside consultant was brought in and, while using infrared cameras, they found plumes of noxious gas coming out of the landfill’s gas flares.
Mayor Shane McFarland said months before that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also found issues with the combustion system at the landfill. Before filing the lawsuit, the city tested discharge from river water in the Walter Hill Recreation area and south of Matthews Lake in the East Fork Stones River.
The sampling confirmed that not only was the water contaminated with lychee, but toxic per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), which is an extremely toxic substance. This includes two compounds for which the EPA has set drinking water health advisory levels requiring no detection in drinking water.
The city of Murfreesboro said signs will be posted in the Walter Hill Recreation area, warning boaters and swimmers not to drink the water there.
Two written notices will also be sent to Republic, the EPA and the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, notifying them of the violations they found against the Federal Clean Water and Air Acts.
News 2 has been told additional claims will be filed against Republic if the discharges and odors are not fixed in 60 days.
The full lawsuit can be found here.
MPL sent the following statement to News 2 about the lawsuit:
“We are reviewing the complaint now. In the last 18 months, Middle Point has invested more than $6 million in landfill infrastructure enhancements, with additional investments planned or already underway. The community can be assured that Middle Point remains committed to being a safe and responsible landfill operator and good neighbor.’
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This is a developing story. WKRN News 2 will continue to update this article as new information becomes available.