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Cleanup of flood debris along Mill Creek abruptly stops

whitsett park debris
Posted at 9:30 PM, Jul 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-12 23:55:00-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — More than three months after flooding at a South Nashville park and creek left the area filled with debris, all cleanup efforts have stopped.

Items ranging from plastic straws, to computer parts still line the banks of Mill Creek and Whitsett Park, after a nearby warehouse flooded in March. Council Member Ginny Welsh, who represents the 16th district, calls the situation frustrating.

"You are looking at what is left behind," said Council Member Welsch. "This is what they think they are going to walk away from."

Welsh said the warehouse that flooded in March is located on Space Park South Drive, and is home to several companies, including RJ Schinner Co. The company later accepted responsibility for a large portion of the debris, and offered to pay to clean it up.

For the last four weeks, crews from Clean Harbors, the company hired for the actual cleanup work, were making progress under difficult conditions. A total of 115 people were on the ground assisting with the effort, and about 20% of the job had been completed.

However, late last week, Welsch said she learned RJ Schinner abruptly pulled the plug on the cleanup effort. The company cited insurance costs as the reason.

"They are complaining it's money, but that is the cost of doing business," said Council Member Welsch. "This is your trash, and you owe to Nashville to clean up your trash out of this creek."

Welsch said the longer the trash sits in the creek, the larger environmental impact it could have.

"If we don’t clean this up, we are looking at long term ecological and environmental damage, that we will never be able to recover from, ever."

Welsch said she is currently working with Metro Codes, Metro Legal and Mayor John Cooper's office to figure out ways to get RJ Schinner and the other companies responsible for the mess to start cleanup efforts again.

"They aren’t walking away." said Welsch. "They aren’t leaving us holding the bag. They will do what they have to do, because that’s the right thing to do."

Initially, volunteers filled the area to help with cleanup, but Welsch said due to safety concerns, the cleanup effort needs to be handled by professionals.

Welsch said other companies located in the warehouse that flooded include Mach 1 Global Services and Royal Corporation.

RJ Schinner Co. did not respond to our request for a comment on the situation.