CATEGORY: WAS Waste/Landfills

AUTHOR: SUMMER

HED:Funding still stalling landfill progress

By Jane Clark Summers

Daily Journal Corinth Bureau

WALNUT - Lack of funding continues to stall progress on a regional landfill planned by the Northeast Mississippi Regional Solid Waste Authority.

Two years after construction of the public landfill was expected to begin, the 288-acre site west of Walnut remains undisturbed.

Lex Mitchell, president of the authority, said all other hurdles except funding have been cleared.

"We are still waiting on the money," Mitchell said.

Applications for funding were first submitted to the Farmers Home Administration in 1992, he added.

About three months ago, the authority resubmitted an application, lowering the amount of the grant request and increasing the amount of a loan money needed to fund the project. Mitchell said the Authority hopes to hear from the latest applications in the near future.

The cost of the landfill is estimated at $3.5 million, with another $1 million needed for equipment.

The authority was organized five years ago to help the six-county Northeast Mississippi region meet stricter waste management guidelines imposed by the federal government.

Construction was to have begun on the regional landfill in early 1995, with operations to begin in the first quarter of 1996. The state Department of Environmental Quality issued operating permits to the Authority in February 1995.

The authority was established in January 1992 by Alcorn, Benton, Marshall, Prentiss, Tippah and Tishomingo counties and the municipalities within those counties. Although Marshall County later withdrew from the authority, the withdrawal was not officially accepted.

The new federal regulations went into effect in October 1993, forcing almost all public landfills to close. Since then, authority members have had waste hauled outside the region to commercial landfills which meet federal requirements.

Another potential snag besides funding is a group of opponents, which stands ready to fight the construction of the landfill in court.

Jackie Brown, president of the Regional Organization of Citizens Opposed to Landfill, said, "We are still active but we haven't had to do anything in a long time."

If and when construction starts, the group will file lawsuits in court to stop it, Brown said.

"But I honestly believe that (the prospect of a landfill at the Walnut) is over with," he said.

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