Residents in south county express concerns over proposed oilfield waste landfill

Published 10:30 pm Monday, November 6, 2023

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NATCHEZ — About a half dozen residents of the county showed up at Monday’s meeting of the Adams County Board of Supervisors to ask questions about a proposed oilfield waste landfill.

A business owned by District 2 Supervisor Kevin Wilson would like to develop an oilfield waste landfill, if it makes it through the state’s approval process, on a 400 acre piece of property located off U.S. 61 on Shieldsboro Road in southern Adams County. Wilson also owns the property, which is across the road from the existing Waste Management landfill.

Aimee Blount of Complete Oilfield Disposal attended the supervisors’ meeting on Oct. 16, seeking a letter from supervisors stating currently no ordinances or zoning regulations exist in the county that would prohibit the development of such a landfill.

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Blount explained the letter was a very early step in the permitting process, which if successful, would allow the company to handle exploration and production waste from landfill.

Representing at least two of the residents, Millicent Graning asked Wilson if he, indeed, owned the waste disposal company.

Soon after Graning began asking her questions about the proposal oilfield waste landfill, county attorney Scott Slover advised Wilson to recuse himself and leave the room, which he did. Slover did not provide that advice to Wilson when the issue was discussed on Oct. 16.

After Wilson left the room, Graning continued to ask questions and express her opinion about such a landfill operating in south Adams County, “not just in south Adams County where I live, but anywhere in Adams County … I would hope there would be an industrial area that would be a better location for this,” she said.

Graning asked if it was made clear at the Oct. 16 meeting that Blount and Wilson were in business together.

“Was that said at the beginning of the meeting,” Graning asked.

District 4 Supervisor Ricky Gray volunteered to answer the question.

“When this came before the board and mentioned something about an oil landfill and I started questioning her about the location, and I asked some questions. And to my knowledge, being in this county, when you put a landfill or anything close to a neighborhood, people are going to have some concerns. And I started asking questions and Supervisor Wilson said he owned the property. That’s how that conversation came up,” Gray said. “But he didn’t say, ‘this is my company’ that was asking for … to me, I think it would have been nice to know that information to begin with.”

Slover said nothing came before the board for approval at the Oct. 16 meeting.

“It was a request for the board to state whether it does or does not have any zoning ordinances in place, which the county does not have any zoning or ordinances for anybody, but because it was a question of zoning before the board, the supervisor should have recused himself from any discussions going on,” Slover said. “We talked to the ethics commission about it. A decision was not actually made at that time, that’s why he recused himself now. It was not an approval of the project by the board, it was simply a question of whether any ordinance or zoning exists that would prohibit it.”

Graning asked a number of questions about the proposed oilfield waste landfill.

“… Is this waste going to be buried on Kevin Wilson’s property or is this waste going to be buried in the landfill? Because they did this in Jefferson County and now the landfill is closed. I am really concerned about what that means,” Graning said. “Kevin (Wilson) said, ‘We used to have a place in Jefferson County at the dump up there, but that dump is in such bad shape we can’t do that anymore.’ I don’t understand … I understand there is going to be a centrifuge involved and they are going to be separating solid and liquid. I’m not sure where that water will be disposed of. I am assuming some sort of injection well. So that water will have to be trucked back out. It can’t be put on the ground. The solids I assume will be buried?

“When you talk about taking waste from five states, how many trucks a day is that going to be? Where are they going to park when they are waiting to unload? When they unload, is the material in barrels? I think he referred to canisters. Or is it going to be put into a pit? If it’s put into a pit, all of those chemicals can mix. You don’t know what is being put into the pit. And it can become toxic and wind dispersed.

“And I just think we need a lot more information other than from the potential business owner,” Graning continued.

“I think the issue needs to come from MDEQ. I would like to hear from maybe an environmental toxicologist and find out what we are actually signing up for because this sounds like it needs to be in an industrial area and not in an area where it is adjacent to the National Wildlife Refuge,” she said. “All of that property, if you look at a topographical map, it drains to the Homochitto. He is on the south side of Shieldsboro. If you ride out there, all of that property is straight toward the Homochitto. There is some farmland and I there are some adjacent property owners who are probably not thrilled about this. Also, a lot of people in that area have water wells. What is the effect on groundwater? We need a lot more information.”

Slover said it is the job of experts at the Mississippi Department of Environment Quality to make those determinations, not the board of supervisors.

“They are the ones with the expertise. This was just a question whether we have zoning that would prohibit it, and the county does not,” Slover said.

Graning asked if public hearings would be held before decisions are made on the proposed landfill.

President Warren Gaines, District 5 supervisor, responded, saying public hearing would be held, but not by the county, rather by MDEQ.

Gray said he is concerned that Wilson did not recuse himself at the Oct. 16 meeting.

“The problem to me is this: The young lady came before our board and brought some information to us and as one supervisor, I did not know, didn’t have a clue that Supervisor Wilson owned the property and when you are dealing with anything like that, to my knowledge, 25-4-101 says no public servant should use his official position to obtain benefits for theirself. Even though he recused himself from the meeting today, to me the damage is already done because he sat in here and discussed it at the last meeting and asked our emergency management guy to go down there and make sure his property where you are going to put an oil landfill was not in the flood plain. So using your public position to even ask an employee to go down there and do that … Maybe I’m wrong, Mr. Attorney, could you correct me if I’m wrong because all my years in this, you recuse yourself on the front end, which didn’t happen. And he (Wilson) wasn’t going to recuse himself today until you went over and told him.”

Slover said, “That’s what I’m here for. I probably should have done a better job of educating him on the front end.”

Steve Strickland said he lives directly in front of where the facility is proposed to locate.

“From what I understand, these centrifuge plants run 24 hours a day … I am concerned about the noise,” Strickland said.

He also said he is concerned about traffic, as well as it being next to Mount Sinai Church.

“Why are we consistently bringing in economically potentially devastating type situations in front of economically deprived people. Why do we do that?” Strickland asked.