Waste Management landfill refused Nashville flood debris after expansion request rejected

By: and - April 2, 2021 2:51 pm
Southern Services Landfill in Nashville's Bordeaux community. (Photo: John Partipilo)

A Nashville landfill, typical of Middle Tennessee landfills. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Less than one week after the Solid Waste Region Board rejected a proposal to expand a landfill in Bordeaux, the landfill’s owner told the city it could not accept flood debris cleared by Metro crews.

Metro reached out to the Southern Services landfill owner, Waste Management, regarding disposal of debris from last weekend’s floods, a Public Works spokeswoman said.

But, the landfill is close to reaching its capacity in a few years and the board’s decision to reject the expansion forced Waste Management to “become immediately selective” about the volume and type of materials it accepts, a company spokeswoman said.Waste Management logo

The issue highlights the urgent trash crisis facing Metro as multiple landfills in the region are approaching capacity. Waste Management had accepted debris created by storms for decades, including last year’s tornado and the 2020 flood.

“After the tragic flooding over the weekend, Waste Management offered to accept a set amount of the (construction and demolition) flood debris material at Southern Services,” Waste Management spokeswoman Jennifer McKay said. “Unfortunately, this amount only covered a portion of the disposal capacity needed for the flood debris and Metro decided to look for other options. Waste Management remains committed to serving Nashville as best as we can given our C&D disposal capacity limitations at Southern Services.”

McKay said Waste Management has been warning its customers about its approaching capacity for the past two years. The issue immediately came into focus following the flooding, which poured more than 5 inches of rain in a 24 hour period, especially neighborhoods in south Nashville and Bellevue.

“As we have been discussing with customers, including Metro Nashville, for the past two years, Southern Services’ permitted landfill space will reach capacity in just a few years,” McKay said. “Last week, the Davidson County Solid Waste Region Board denied our application for expansion, which is needed to provide disposal services for these types of disaster events as well as the historic growth and continued development of Metro Nashville over the next 12 to 15 years.

“The board’s decision has forced us to become immediately selective about the volume and type of materials we accept at Southern Services so that we can continue to meet the commitments to our existing customers.”

Southern Services is the only landfill in Davidson County that accepts construction and demolition waste.

Public Works spokeswoman Cortnye Stone said the department is sending flood debris to the Middle Point landfill in Murfreesboro, which is operated by Republic Services. The department began picking up residential flood debris on Thursday.

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Nate Rau
Nate Rau

Nate Rau has a granular knowledge of Nashville’s government and power brokers, having spent more than a decade with the Tennessean, navigating the ins and outs of government deals as an investigative reporter. During his career at The Tennessean and The City Paper, he covered the music industry and Metro government and won praise for hard-hitting series on concussions in youth sports and deaths at a Tennessee drug rehabilitation center. In a state of Titans and Vols fans, Nate is an unabashed Green Bay Packers and Chicago Cubs fan.

Anita Wadhwani
Anita Wadhwani

Anita Wadhwani is a senior reporter for the Tennessee Lookout. The Tennessee AP Broadcasters and Media (TAPME) named her Journalist of the Year in 2019 as well as giving her the Malcolm Law Award for Investigative Journalism. Wadhwani is formerly an investigative reporter with The Tennessean who focused on the impact of public policies on the people and places across Tennessee.