City of Murfreesboro files new allegations against landfill over toxic contaminants

By: - November 1, 2022 6:03 am
Dan Jameson, vice-president of Republic Services, speaks at a May 12 hearing in Rutherford County. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Dan Jameson, vice-president of Republic Services, speaks at a May 12, 2021 hearing in Rutherford County. The City of Murfreesboro is now suing Republic Services. (Photo: John Partipilo)

The City of Murfreesboro is lodging fresh allegations against operators of Middle Point Landfill in an ongoing legal dispute over the existence of harmful air and water contaminants linked to the region’s largest waste disposal site.

In August, the city filed suit against Republic Services — the nation’s No. 2 waste corporation — and its local subsidiaries, BFI Waste Systems of Tennessee and Republic Services of Tennessee, alleging runoff from the landfill is the source of PFA’s discovered in nearby waterways.

PFAs, which do not occur naturally, are known as “forever chemicals” because of their resistance to biodegradation. They have been linked to a host of lethal diseases.

Republic Services pushed back against those claims, alleging the sources of those toxic chemicals are instead a city-run wastewater treatment plant and a separate landfill operated by Rutherford County.

On Friday, attorneys for Murfreesboro said they had found yet another local spring contaminated with PFAs — this one with a more direct link to the landfill.

Samples taken in October from Bubba Spring, located on a downgradient from the landfill, “showed unusually high levels of PFAS,” the lawsuit said.  The finding is important because Middle Point’s own engineers had, in the past, identified Bubba Springs as a monitoring location to test groundwater runoff from the landfill, the lawsuit noted.

“(Middle Point Landfill) engineers themselves had identified this location as a canary in the coal mine for groundwater contamination from MPL,” the lawsuit said.

The chemical composition of the samples taken from Bubba Springs contains a nearly identical profile to a spring nearby — where the presence of PFAS was first identified by city officials then disputed by Republic Services, who blamed the chemicals on city and county operations, not the landfill.

“The finding is deeply concerning to the City and now part of the complaint. Bubba’s spring is one of Middle Point’s own sampling locations so there is a great deal here to work out,” a statement from the city said.

Mike Classen, the landfill’s manager, did not respond to a text seeking comment Monday.

No trial date has yet been set in the lawsuit, filed in Middle District Court in Nashville.

Middle Point Landfill- Amended Brief by City of Murfreesboro by Anita Wadhwani on Scribd

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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.