Graning says major construction under way at proposed oilfield waste disposal landfill site, but no permit authorizing it

Published 4:57 pm Monday, February 5, 2024

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NATCHEZ — A Natchez woman says photos prove an Adams County supervisor has begun development on a unapproved and controversial oilfield waste landfill.

Millicent Graning presented photos to the Adams County Board of Supervisors on Monday, saying the images contradict statements made by Board President Kevin Wilson about the work being done in the southern portion of the county.

Wilson, who owns the property on Shieldsboro Road off U.S. 61 and is an owner of the company seeking to develop the landfill, said in a recent story in The Natchez Democrat that the work done thus far at the site is only preliminary.

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However Graning, who has spoken to the Board of Supervisors several times in opposition to the proposed landfill, said that isn’t the case. She presented a photo showing a concrete holding tank she said is 120 feet long and photos of a series of other tanks, one she said is 50 feet long and another is approximately 30 feet long.

“There is some major form work being done. This is very large and has a curve on it, maybe for the centrifuge,” Graning said, displaying another photo. “There are several acres of land that have been cleared.”

Wilson was not in the meeting at the time Graning presented her information. He recused himself and left the meeting room because of his conflict of interest with the project. Wilson owns the land in question and has an interest in the company seeking to build the landfill.

Wilson did not recuse himself on Oct 16, 2023, when Aimee Blount of Complete Oilfield Disposal first presented the project. He has recused himself for discussions since then.

The proposal has been embroiled in controversy, including the legal process for approval and permitting as supervisors at one time said they played no role in the process. Graning questioned county attorney Scott Slover about the seven-step process required to change the county’s solid waste disposal plan to allow the development of an oilfield waste landfill.

“Scott, I know you told me that since there is no application filed that y’all can’t do anything. Well, if Kevin is building the facility, what’s the point in the process? I think it’s really putting the board in a really bad position,” she said.

Slover explained Wilson would have to receive a permit in order to operate the facility. He then asked permission from the supervisors to move forward in researching the specific permitting process, which supervisors provided.

“I would encourage y’all to ride out there and take a look at it. It’s pretty major construction. Maybe close to a quarter of a million dollars have been spent,” Granning said. “I would say that first statement Kevin made (to the newspaper about work so far at the site being preliminary) is false.”

Graning said her opposition group has talked with Michelle Clark, the head of the compliance division of the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality.

“She was aware of the project and she sent inspectors and MDEQ will be citing Kevin Wilson for not getting the proper permits and will be issuing a cease and desist order,” Graning said.

Clark did not immediately respond to a phone message left for her seeking to verify the information Graning provided.

Graning also said she and others in opposition are going to seek a state attorney general’s opinion “for a ruling because of Kevin’s position as president of the board of supervisors and the fact that this really has not been done transparently and these false statements are being made and that he stands to profit from this project.”

She said she is in contact with members of the historic Mount Sinai Church, located across Shieldsboro from the proposed landfill site.

“I don’t think Adams County wants to be the dumping ground for seven states. It scares me that he has spent this much money building this. The board of supervisors has the right to end this. I would hate to see Kevin spend a lot of money on something that may not be approved,” Graning said.

Slover said, “This has happened before. People spend a lot of money on something by putting the cart before the horse.”

After the meeting, Wilson said he had not authorized the pouring of concrete or other construction at the site and had told the person who would operate the facility and would eventually have a working interest in it to delay any kind of work other than land clearing until April or May.

“I found out about it (construction work) three or four weeks late. I had not been out there. I still haven’t been out there,” Wilson said. “He was so determined to get this thing going, that he started building it without authorization.

“I have put the brakes on this. I could turn it into as a hog farm with what they have done so far if I want to. I am not going to spend $2 million on this. I know we have to change our solid waste plan (in order to operate an oilfield waste landfill),” Wilson said.