MDEQ should acknowledge withdrawn dump application: lawyer
Investors in a proposed third landfill in Madison County are continuing to push the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality to approve the landfill site even after the company withdrew its application, an attorney representing a coalition opposed to the dump said Thursday.
Attorney Ron Farris said that remaining investors asked the state as recently as Feb. 4 to keep permit applications alive.
The move comes after the Mississippi House of Representatives on Wednesday overwhelmingly passed legislation that would prohibit a third municipal landfill in any county having two already without giving the citizens of that county the right to vote, Farris said.
One day prior, on Feb. 3, MDEQ formally received a written request from NCL Waste LLC to "withdraw all permit applications submitted to MDEQ relating to the NCL Landfill project in Madison County, Mississippi."
MDEQ officials previously stated that submission of a letter from the applicant, in this case NCL Waste LLC, was sufficient to withdraw the permit applications, pending since 2017, Farris said in a press release Thursday.
“However, MDEQ won't acknowledge the withdrawal,” the press release states. “Then, on Feb. 4, 2021, Michael Bilberry of Phoenix Waste LLC, which claims to own 50% of NCL Waste, issued a second letter to the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality requesting that all permit applications remain intact. Bilberry's letter was issued and received several days after NCL Waste, LLC formally withdrew the applications. As of this date, MDEQ has not confirmed the letter received on Feb. 3, nor have they confirmed that they are considering the landfill applications withdrawn.
“Withdrawal of the applications came the same week that NCL dismissed its lawsuits against the Madison County Board of Supervisors and the City of Ridgeland, in line with statements their attorneys made to various parties and judges involved in the process.
"This makes no sense, Farris said, NCL finally decided to give up fighting for this dump and did exactly what MDEQ told them to do in order to withdraw their applications, and now MDEQ, after more than a week, won't confirm that the applications are withdrawn. The thousands of people whose lives and future are at stake deserve better than this.”
Farris, along with attorneys representing the City of Ridgeland, have called upon MDEQ to acknowledge the Feb. 3 letter as formally withdrawing the applications.
"Under prevailing law, the withdrawal of the application by the applicant is effective upon receipt and, by its terms, that withdrawal was effective February 2 or February 3 at the latest," Farris said, “Anything that happened after that is immaterial in terms of whether the applications are withdrawn or not. NCL apparently did have some kind of shakeup internally, but that did not happen until after NCL withdrew its applications.
“It is important that those in opposition to adding a third landfill in Madison County stand up and make their voices heard at MDEQ right now.” Farris added.
“HB 949, a bi-partisan bill authored by Madison County State Representatives Jill Ford (R) and Ed Blackmon (D), passed the Mississippi House 106-5 on Feb. 10,” the press release states. “The bill now heads to the Senate, where a similar bill died last year.
"If you care about people's right to have a voice before landfills invade their communities, you need to call Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann and Mississippi Senators right now, Farris said. Hosemann's office can be reached at 601-359-3200.
“Jackson Mayor Chokwe A. Lumumba and Mayor Gene McGee of Ridgeland, the City of Canton and the Town of Flora have spoken out against the landfill, and most recently the Hinds County Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to oppose the landfill.”