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Globe/Roger Nomer Mark Russell (left) makes a point about the layout of the proposed Southwest Regional Landfill near Purcell during a public session Thursday at the Ramada Inn in Joplin.

By Susan Redden

Globe Staff Writer

Neighbors who oppose a planned 106-acre landfill north of Purcell said they got few answers to their questions Thursday at a public session on the proposal.

Officials of Enviro-Site Management staged the session, a state requirement designed for residents to raise questions and landfill officials to answer them.

But at the three-hour event, at the Joplin Ramada Inn, landfill officials, engineers and state representatives were stationed in different areas of a small meeting room, and talked with individual residents and groups.

Nearly 50 people crowded into the small room during the first two hours of the session, making questions, and answers, difficult to hear.

Charimonde Heger, a member of Citizens for Environmental Safety, a group of neighbors organized to oppose the landfill, said the group will submit its questions in writing to the landfill company and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, with copies going to local legislators and Gov. Matt Blunt.

Craig Post, president of Enviro-Site, and Jim Hull, with the DNR's solid-waste management program, both said they expect to receive questions in the wake of the session.

Chuck Surface, Jasper County presiding commissioner, called the setting "ridiculous."

"This is not a suitable place for a public forum," he said, "and I don't think it was intended to be."

Lori Post, a spokeswoman for the landfill company, said landfill officials "thought the meeting room would be larger."

"But we also thought there would be more come-and-go traffic, and we wouldn't have so many people at one time," she said.

Barbara Hunter, a landfill opponent, said the turnout "just shows how concerned neighboring landowners are."

Brian Elledge, a hydrogeologist with Andrews Environmental Engineering, was on hand to answer questions about groundwater monitoring and other elements of site design.

Roy Sprenkle asked if the landfill's leachate-collection system would be adequate, and Mark Russell, another neighbor, said the landfill design reflected rainfall calculations in Tulsa.

"And this area has at least 10 more inches of rain every year," Russell said.

Sprenkle said he was frustrated at not being able to hear all the questions and answers.

"It should have been set up differently so all could have sat down, everyone could have asked their questions, and they could have been answered," he said.

Landfill opponents also sought assurances that boundaries of the operation would be set back 200 feet from the roadway, which they said is a requirement of state law.

The landfill could be considered in violation after operations start, if the setbacks are not a part of the design plan, said Becky Baltz, District 7 engineer with the Missouri Department of Transportation.

"Then the county could prosecute," she said.

"The county will prosecute," said Surface.

Craig Post said the landfill has no plan to change its setback parameters. He said the requirement applies to junkyards, and not to landfills.

"That law has been applied to landfills all over the state," said John Price, an attorney for the residents' group, who was at the session.

Sherry Garvin said the landfill's plans for loading and unloading areas on the west side of the property would endanger Slater Branch, which is nearby.

Craig Post said some construction is under way at the site, in the form of work to drill monitoring wells. It will be months before anything else starts, because the DNR has yet to approve permit modifications sought by the company.

One of the modifications, Heger said, would reduce the amount of groundwater monitoring at the site.

"With that modification and the one in 1999, the only thing that's the same is the land," she said. "They should start all over with a new permit application."

Site owner

Enviro-Site Management was formed by Advantage Waste Services, a Springfield company that earlier this year purchased the landfill property from Allied Waste Inc.

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