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Murfreesboro notifies Middle Point Landfill of alleged contamination at nearby spring

Middle Point Landfill.jpg
Posted at 8:16 PM, Dec 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-21 22:27:36-05

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WTVF) — The City of Murfreesboro notified Republic Services (Middle Point Landfill) of a new contaminated spring along the banks of the East Fork Stones River.

The notice serves as an addendum to the first notice sent back in August concerning contamination near the Bubba Springs area that NewsChannel5 first reported on last fall.

In October, the city amended its lawsuit to add what they believed to be several violations of the EPA’s Clean Air and Water Act.

The lawsuit alleges that discharge of toxic landfill leachate flowed directly into the East Fork Stones River, “creating a public and private nuisance and damage to infrastructure and property managed and/or owned by the City.”

"Leachate" is a contaminated liquid, made from water gradually filtering through a solid waste disposal site.

City officials say Bubba Spring showed signs of contaminants consistent with leachate they found in other bodies of water near the landfill.

The city’s press release reads:

“In total, the City has identified three locations where contaminated waters appear to be coming from the Middle Point landfill into the river. One location is a surface discharge to the river on the northwest side of Middle Point. The other two locations are from groundwater-fed springs coming up into the river, each at opposite ends of the Middle Point property. The new location is one of the groundwater-fed springs and it is close to the surface discharge on the northwest side. The new location is commonly referred to as Bubba Spring.”

The press release included three images from the spring, as well as a top-down visual of the river near the landfill.

Image from City of Murfreesboro of alleged contamination at Bubba Spring.
Image from City of Murfreesboro of Bubba Spring location.
Image from City of Murfreesboro of Bubba Spring location compared to other alleged contaminated sites.

City officials say the spring was confirmed in October to be contaminated during near-drought conditions when stormwater was not a factor.

According to the press release, “the spring had higher levels of the toxic PFOA chemical than the other groundwater spring found months ago farther upstream. This development adds to the City’s concerns currently being litigated.”

Middle Point Landfill offered this statement in response to the press release:

“The City of Murfreesboro continues to waste taxpayer dollars pursuing meritless claims. The latest allegations related to Bubba Spring are unproven and untrue. TDEC was onsite as recent as last week to inspect the landfill, and specifically, they examined the Bubba Spring area that the city has identified as a source of an alleged 'contaminated spring.' Once again, there were no violations found at the site, and as TDEC indicates in their inspection report, no leachate was found in the spring. This is the seventh consecutive inspection by TDEC where no violation was found at Middle Point Landfill.

Further, routine and consistent testing of groundwater confirms no leachate impacts to the springs, and such routine groundwater monitoring was completed as recently as October of this year. We look forward to addressing these meritless claims with the court.”

Click here for a link to Middle Point's TDEC and Tennessee Division of Solid Waste reports.

Middle Point has at times, attributed contamination to the nearby Rutherford County Landfill. Murfreesboro officials say it’s clear this was not the case since Bubba Spring is “on the west side of Middle Point, and appears to be part of the groundwater monitoring set up by Republic to test groundwater passing under the Middle Point Landfill, unrelated to the Rutherford County Landfill farther south.”

Middle Point now has 60 days to correct these concerns, before the city can add them as another violation in their federal case.

The city already gave notice on August 10, about the first two areas of concern. The city later amended its lawsuit to include these areas of suspected contamination, 60 days later.

The city seeks an injunction against Middle Point Landfill operators. That includes putting an end to the odorous gases and any discharge leaking into the East Fork Stones River or other bodies of water.