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State Finds Illegal Dumping From Music City Center

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Environmental Geologist Mark Quare Environmental Geologist Mark Quare
Senior Project Manager Larry Atema Senior Project Manager Larry Atema

By Ben Hall
Investigative Reporter

State inspectors found some of the demolition material associated with the new Music City had been dumped illegally. Construction supervisors are promising to do a better job.

Crews started tearing down buildings earlier this month touting big plans for an environmentally friendly project. 

"Most of the material that we'll demolish will end up not in a landfill but at a recycler. An example, the steel will go to a steel recycler," said Senior Project Manager Larry Atema on February 8.

NewsChannel 5 Investigates obtained video shot less than a week after demolition began.

It showed crews filling dump trucks at the convention center site with unsorted demolition material, then dumping the material at a site in Hermitage.  

"It should not have happened," said Atema. "I think what is important at least to us, when we first learned of it, we went out and less than 12 hours later we had the steel picked out of the debris." 

NewsChannel 5 found more than just steel at the site. We discovered electrical wiring, metal siding and styrofoam mixed in with what was supposed to be just crushed cement. 

"These sorts of things present hazards to the environment, the groundwater, the surface water. So, they are required to go into a permitted facility," said Environmental Geologist Mark Quarels.

State investigators inspected the site and also found things like tar paper and carpet. The state temporarily stopped all dumping there, and issued a notice of violation for illegal dumping. 

Mark Koester's company owns the property. He said construction crews did a poor job of sorting through the material before they dumped it on the site. Crews immediately began cleaning the site by hand. 

"I'm not sure what happened, but what they told me is that they were under a lot of pressure to get that stuff out of there, and that's what they did," said Koester. 

Atema said crews will have to do a better job of sorting. He said that the crews are now looking more closely at what leaves the demolition site.  

On the positive side, he said that in the past all of the material would have ended up in a landfill, but this is a new process. 

"The subcontractors working on this don't like this to happen," said Atema. "It did. So, we fix it, and we try to do better. We move on." 

The state citation said the amount of unacceptable material was extremely small when compared to all the concrete at the site. State investigators promised to keep monitoring the site. It is re-opened and crews are taking crushed concrete back to the site. 


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