Resident questions work at proposed oilfield landfill site

Published 11:26 am Friday, January 19, 2024

NATCHEZ — An Adams County resident on Thursday questioned construction at a potential oilfield landfill site that has yet to receive official approval.

“Are you aware that construction has started on Kevin (Wilson’s) property, major construction?” Millicent Graning asked the Adams County Board of Supervisors members. “If he has started the facility and if we haven’t followed the steps, I think that puts undue pressure on the supervisors that he is going to want you to vote for it because he’s already spending money to build it.”

Wilson, who is also president of the Board of Supervisors, is seeking to develop an oilfield landfill on the property he owns on Shieldsboro Road off U.S. 61. The proposed landfill prompted opposition from residents, including Graning who has spoken previously at meetings.

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Wilson, who is an owner of Complete Oilfield Disposal, recused himself from the discussion on Thursday due to the conflict of interest.

Graning questioned whether Wilson was “pressuring” fellow supervisors to approve the landfill. “I feel like even though there is a process that has to be followed, that Kevin has decided he doesn’t have to follow the law and he can go ahead and build this, that you all are going to vote for it because he’s pressuring you to do so,” she said. “As the president of the board of supervisors, I don’t think that’s a good position. The optics are horrible. It’s obviously unethical and possibly illegal. It puts the board of supervisors in a very tight position.”

Contacted after the meeting, Wilson said the work happening on the property he owns is preliminary and said there is no major construction happening.

“This is a two-year or more process,” Wilson said.

The issue of the landfill first arose in October 2023, when Aimee Blount of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, addressed the board on behalf of Complete Oilfield Disposal asking for a letter stating no ordinances or zoning regulations would prohibit the development of such a landfill.

Wilson did not recuse himself during that meeting.

Supervisors took no action, as County Attorney Scott Slover said the county cannot act on the landfill until an application for the landfill has been made.

However, the approval steps are unclear.

Graning said the state has outlined a seven-step plan that the county must follow when it changes its solid waste disposal plan, which would be necessary in order for this landfill to be permitted.

“Mr. (Warren) Gaines (District 5 supervisor), at one time you said this isn’t something determined by the board of supervisors, that it’s determined by DEQ, but actually it is something that is determined by the Board of Supervisors,” Graning said.

Gaines said Slover advised him originally that the county has no rules or regulations that would prohibit the construction of an oilfield waste landfill, that the decision is that of the Mississippi Department of Environment Quality. Therefore, representatives of the company have been “jumping through the hoops” put before it by MDEQ.

“We cannot and will not operate or construct a landfill without the proper permitting,” Wilson said. “We would never do anything that is illegal, and have not done anything that is illegal. Nor would I ever try to put any undue pressure on the board of supervisors or do anything that I think would harm this county in any way.”

Wilson said the majority of the work on the property to date has been the clearing of the land.

District 4 Supervisor Ricky Gray said he thinks such an oilfield waste landfill would harm the community.

“Everybody I talk to in the community thinks this will harm the community and as an elected official, it is our responsibility to do things to look out for the community, not to harm the community. As an elected official, I would never think about doing anything to harm the community. If it comes down to anything like that, you don’t need to be an elected official,” Gray said. “You’ve got to put the citizens first, not yourself first.”

Gaines again told Graning that nothing has been presented to the Board of Supervisors or to Emergency Management about an oilfield waste landfill.

“Nothing has been presented to this board, or as far as I know nothing has been submitted to emergency management. Nothing has been proposed and no paperwork submitted. One thing that we did say is if something was proposed, we were automatically going to have a public hearing and keep the public informed,” Gaines said.

Graning said something is being built on the property and speculated the Wilson is going forward on constructing the landfill without getting permission to do so.

“I am asking Kevin to please locate this somewhere else, not in the county and in an industrial area. There is a historic church right across the road on Shieldsboro. They can’t move that church, but he can move this landfill,” Graning said.

The proposed area for the landfill is also across the street from the existing Waste Management landfill.

District 3 Supervisor Angela Hutchins said, “As a supervisor, if it’s anything that is going to harm the community or the majority is not for it, I would not vote for it.”