By Susan Redden
Globe Staff Writer
PURCELL, Mo. - An informational meeting on plans to operate a solid-waste landfill near Purcell is set for Thursday, and local opponents don't like anything about the proposal, including the site of the public meeting.
The session is to be at Joplin's Ramada Inn, 3320 S. Range Line Road, prompting criticisms from the Jasper County Commission that the meeting should have been in Jasper or Webb City, or someplace else more convenient to those who live around the landfill site.
Lori Post, speaking on behalf of new owners of the landfill, said the site was selected to accommodate engineers for the landfill and representatives of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.
"We did not find a closer facility that had the amenities to meet those needs," Post wrote in response to e-mailed questions.
DNR representatives will be at the session, and officials of Enviro-Site Management and Andrews Engineering will be there to answer questions.
Enviro-Site was formed by Advantage Waste Services, a Springfield company that earlier this year purchased the landfill from Allied Waste Inc.
The public-information session is a requirement since the operating permit for the site was issued more than five years ago, said Jim Bell, chief of engineering for DNR's solid-waste division.
"Our regulations require that if the site is permitted longer than five years, and they decide to build, they have to go through steps, including a public-information session, where they'll solicit public comments and respond," Bell said. "The purpose is to reacquaint residents with plans for the landfill to move forward, though I'm not sure it's necessary in this case."
Residents around the landfill battled the previous proposal in a fight that went all the way to the Missouri Court of Appeals. Charimonde Heger, a member of Citizens for Environmental Safety, a group formed in opposition to landfill plans, said members still are convinced the site's geology makes the landfill a threat to underground water supplies and that runoff from the site could pollute nearby streams and farm ponds.
Post, on behalf of the Enviro-Site, said the site "has been designed in compliance with requirements to protect the environmental interests in the area" and that the company will address those concerns in the design and development.
Heger said the group has more questions, based on changes that have been proposed by Enviro-Site.
She said the modifications include a less-comprehensive groundwater monitoring plan. The group also says state law requires the landfill to be fenced, or set back from the road 200 feet and that maps on file for the landfill put the setbacks at 150 feet.
Bell said the permit modification is under review. The department also is reviewing the change of ownership, though he called it "a matter of paperwork.
"The timing of the change of ownership complicates things, because until the department approves that, they don't own it and can't work on it," he said. "But it's a sequential process. Once we've approved the change of ownership and if we approve the permit modification, then and only then can they actually begin construction."
If the landfill is approved, opponents said the county should impose tipping fees and use that money to compensate road districts, adjacent landowners and others who would be damaged.
State law bars first-classification counties like Jasper County from mandating tipping fees, and a measure that would have allowed that, with voter approval, did not succeed in the recent session of the Missouri General Assembly, according to Chuck Surface, presiding commissioner.
Commissioners wrote to Doyle Childers, DNR director, arguing the site should be examined again, and that its geology and topography could lead to groundwater contamination and the run-off of contaminants into a tributary that feeds the North Fork of Spring River. They also expressed concerns that much of the waste disposed of in the site would come from the Springfield area.
Childers said the site geology was "investigated thoroughly" as part of the original permitting process.
A community involvement session on Southwest Regional Landfill Inc. will be from 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday at Ramada Inn, 3320 S. Range Line Road, in Joplin.
By Susan Redden