Supervisors demand more info on proposed oilfield waste landfill project, process

Published 7:07 pm Monday, May 20, 2024

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NATCHEZ — After a failed vote to deny a license for a proposed oilfield waste landfill, Adams County Supervisors want more information from the proposed developers.

Supervisors on Monday once again discussed an application by Complete Oilfield Waste to develop a regional oilfield landfill in Adams County on land on Shieldsboro Road, near an existing Waste Management landfill. Both the land and the company involved are owned in part by Kevin Wilson, District 2 supervisor.

“We need more people brought to the table — the company that would be building it and maybe someone else,” said Wes Middleton, District 1. “I don’t understand the process and I doubt anyone else on this board understands the process.”

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Middleton’s comments came after a tense discussion prompted by County Attorney Scott Slover’s update to board members.

On April 1, Slover told the board that Complete Oilfield Disposal had filed an application for the landfill, completing what he called Step 1A in the process. “The second part is Step 1B. It provides that this board has to review their current plan and its application for amendments and make a couple of findings,” he said in April. “If the board approves Step 1B, then it goes to step 2, meaning we draft a new solid waste plan or the amendment, and Step 3 is where we seek public comment in a public hearing.”

Slover suggested to the board that it seek the help of its engineering firm to provide technical guidance during the process of reviewing the solid waste plan and any amendment, and in following the DEQ’s guidance for doing so.

However, on Monday Slover said he reached out to the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality concerning its jurisdiction over commercial oil and gas-related operations because of what he perceived as an inconsistency in state law and regulations.Slover said the MDEQ responded that it has broad authority over the regulation of commercial oil and gas operations, not the county as he had previously reported.

Slover said he wrote a memorandum to supervisors advising them of this discrepancy and asking if they wanted him to seek an opinion from the attorney general.

Gray read from information he said was provided by Slover from the MDEQ that said the board can deny amendment of its solid waste plan if it finds the request for an amendment to be inconsistent with its existing plan.

“This actually says if the local government determines that the proposed modification is not needed, or is otherwise inconsistent with the approved local plan, then the requested modification may be denied. All this other stuff that we are researching on our own and doing whatever we want to do. This says ‘consistent with our solid waste plan, and it’s not,’ ” Gray said.

Gray made a motion to deny the request from Complete Oilfield Disposal to modify the county’s solid waste plan to allow for its oilfield waste landfill. District 3 Supervisor Angela Hutchins provided a second to Gray’s motion. However, Middleton and District 5 Supervisor Warren Gaines voted nay.

Because Wilson had recused himself from the discussion and the vote, the two-to-two tie means the motion did not carry a majority and therefore failed.

Middleton said to deny the modification without having all the necessary information to make a decision was a disservice to Adams Countians.

Gaines agreed, saying he also needed more information.

“I will not vote for anything hazardous in y’all’s community,” Gaines said to Millicent Graning, an opponent of the landfill who was in attendance at the meeting. “We need to get clear information on what the effect is…I want to know exactly what is going to be going on before we shut it down. I don’t know what the structure is. We want to know what is going to be the environmental hazard. Again, I will not vote for anything that is going to hurt our community.

“I see your side,” Gaines said. “I want to see the company’s side.”

Gaines asked Slover to reach out to the proposed landfill company and ask them to get put on a future meeting agenda.

Graning balked at that suggestion.

“I have a problem with that because they want to make money on it. I would like an expert, maybe someone with a petroleum background. You can’t ask a person who is applying,” she said.

Graning has been a vocal opponent of the landfill and in April was convicted of trespassing on the proposed site to obtain photographs of unauthorized work under way.

Middleton said the company does need to come to the board to answer questions.

Gaines made a motion to ask the company and an independent expert to come and answer questions at a future board meeting. Hutchins seconded. Middleton, Gaines and Hutchins voted in favor. Gray was the lone nay vote.