Jonesboro Landfills Remain in Limbo

JULY 23, 2004 -- Posted at: 5:45pm CDT

JONESBORO, AR - The City of Jonesboro applied for a new Class 4 landfill on July 27th, 2000. A permit was granted by the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality on May 20th of last year. Melvin Grimes has lived next to the current landfill for more than 40 years.

He said, "Of course, it ain't ever bothered me."

Having spoken with many of Grimes' neighbors before, the ever-growing mound does bother most of them. They're also troubled about many aspects of its proposed replacement, which is supposed to be built on land northwest of the current landfill. Recalculations regarding the life of the landfill by the engineer overseeing this new sight worry city council members.

Darrel Dover, a member of the Jonesboro City Council, explained, "I think originally they had stated that it would probably last 20 years based on a certain tonnage, but I think he went back and looked at the past few years and the increase has maybe reduced the existing possibility of the new landfill to six point something years."

The annual volume has increased from 24,000 tons to 42,000 tons per year since the plans were first proposed. Now city council members are trying to decide what to do next.

"We've talked about maybe looking for an alternative sight. We've looked at maybe using the Craighead County sight," added Dover.

It's estimated that disposing of that much Class 4 waste at the $26 per ton fee at the county landfill would cost more than $1 million dollars per year. Before any decisions can be finalized, court cases filed by two different groups of people who live or own land near the 2 sights have to be resolved.

"We think it would be wise to continue to look at alternatives in case for some reason that we can't foresee that this one might not work as well as we thought, Dover commented.

In the meantime, city council members hope ADEQ continues to let waste be dumped at the current landfill, next to Melvin Grimes back yard. When asked if he ever thought the landfill would reach the height it did, Grimes said, "No. Not really. I didn't think they was gonna go that high."

Final closure of the current Class 4 landfill was approved October 14th, 1998. Six years later, it remains open. Darrel Dover said no alternative plan has been established in case ADEQ stop allowing waste to be dumped at the current landfill. Mayor Hubert Brodell didn't want to comment about either landfill, because of that pending litigation.