Landfill February 2023 Update

February 28, 2023
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Friends of the North Fork and White Rivers – Response to remarks made by officials at the last OMSWD Board meeting at NABORS Landfill

The Ozark Mountain Solid Waste District should take heed when a county Quorum Court and a City Council of the county seat clearly and unanimously express their opposition to a landfill opening or reopening in their county. Their resolutions opposing the reopening were undertaken for good reasons and should be respected even if not required by district rules. 

The OMSWD and LRS each have a way out of the sale if they care enough to exercise that option. The district’s attorney, John Verkamp, stated publicly that the district has a way out. 

Members of Friends of the North Fork and White Rivers addressed the new OMSWD board at the January Meeting. We attempted to explain the risks to public health and nearby lake waters if the proposed landfill is reopened and additional cells are permitted. At the time of closure, the Arkansas Division of Environmental Quality led the public to believe that the NABORS landfill was to be permanently closed because of hazardous chemicals leaking into the groundwater and surface water.  Around fourteen million dollars has been spent by ADEQ to remediate the problem. The October 2022 Harbor Engineering report lists all of the hazardous chemicals found in groundwater sampling around the NABORS landfill site. We fail to understand how an LRS representative can characterize the sampled water as “clean.”

It was the Northwest Arkansas Solid Waste District (later OMSWD) with the help of the Northwest Arkansas Economic Development District that sought the purchase of RLH Landfill in 2005 and, in the process, created NABORS (North Arkansas Board of Regional Sanitation). All counties in the district approved the purchase.  We fail to understand why Mr. Woehl characterizes this as Baxter County’s landfill problem.  

A Pulaski County judge ordered the land to be sold to get what little money that could be obtained from the OMSWD property connected with the OMSWD bankruptcy. He did not say that the property must be sold to LRS. There are other buyers that will pay the same amount of money for the land and will not open a landfill. ADEQ will continue to monitor and remediate the landfill. 

ADEQ has little to do with the sale of the NABORS landfill and surrounding land. If the sale goes through, ADEQ will then be asked to modify the existing permit and approve any new permits. The public has the right to express any reasons for denial of a permit, to ask for public hearings or to appeal any decisions.  Any new permits will require a prior certificate of need from the OMSWD. Here, also, the public may request a public hearing and even appeal any decision.
Many documents can be found in the ADEQ public database that make reference to karst features in the limestone underlying the landfill site. These were written by hydrologeologists, engineers and ADEQ staff scientists following their own investigations. The ADEQ has stated that the landfill site is unstable, having poor foundation conditions because of karst features.  We fail to understand why an LRS representative would state that the NABORS landfill was not built atop karst topography.