Fire, bankruptcy keeps county’s waste hauling up in the air

By Sean Dunlap
Franklin Advocate

Uncertainty surrounding the fate of Franklin County’s waste dumping contract with Riverbend Environmental Services LLC was discussed at length during Monday’s Board of Supervisors meeting.

Board attorney Bill Halford said little has changed as the regional landfill in Jefferson County was closed in mid-August due to a fire, which has since been extinguished, but the facility has yet to reopen.

He noted the landfill is also tied up in a bankruptcy filing by its current operator dating back to late 2019 with a potential purchaser of the facility working its way through court filings and proceedings.

“There’s a lot of people in the same boat as we are in having to find other places to take their trash while this is being worked out,” Halford said. “We’re continuing to look at all of our options, but, in the meantime, the garbage has to go somewhere.”

The county is presently paying Waste Management $44 per ton in tipping fees at its Plantation Oaks landfill in Sibley on a temporary basis while Riverbend remains shuttered.

Franklin County’s contract with Riverbend for dumping waste was $20 per ton.

Halford said recent reports he had seen indicate Greenway Environmental Services LLC had taken steps to purchase the Riverbend facility for $5.1 million, and the bankruptcy judge overseeing the case had approved the sale last week.

While the possible sale crawls its way through the courts, Halford said any new operator would have to honor the remainder of the county’s existing three-year contract with Riverbend.

Circuit Clerk Warren Walker, who oversees Franklin County’s solid waste operations, said on Monday he is waiting on contact information for the potential landfill purchaser to begin seeking a more permanent solution to the county’s waste hauling situation.

“The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality tells us we are past the problems caused by the fire,” Walker told the panel. “It seems like what we’re waiting on is the bankruptcy court and the potential buyout by Greenway to take place. So, for right now, we’re still sitting in limbo.”

MDEQ has publicly stated it is not certain as to when the Jefferson County dump site might reopen to its customers, but the state agency said it will work with any new operator to make certain the facility is utilized in compliance with environmental laws and guidelines.

Still, Halford said Franklin County is far from alone in paying additional costs to dispose of its waste, saying entities including Adams and Wilkinson counties along with cities like Natchez and Brookhaven have used the Riverbend facility.

“It’s a money issue for a lot of people,” Halford said.

During the meeting, county leaders did not discuss the total price tag increase for waste dumping since the Riverbend facility closed.

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