SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - A Shreveport landfill that has a long history of ongoing fires must stop operations per a state environmental agency, but Mayor Cedric Glover said the order leaves a lot to be desired.
The Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality issued the order Wednesday for Harrelson Material Management to stop receiving and disposing of new material, which the DEQ believes is causing the fire and smoke issues that nearby residents have complained of.
But Glover said his request was that Gov. Bobby Jindal permanently shut down the landfill and remediate the site. Jindal's order, however, fell short of the mark.
"The history of violation at this landfill is horrendous and the only real priority at this point is making sure the folks who have to inhale this exhaust every day get immediate relief," Glover said.
Residents living near the landfill are still calling this a victory, and a step in the right direction. "It kind of seemed like didn't no one cared, so I am glad, I am truly elated. We weren't even comfortable in our own home. When it was constantly burning and the house was constantly full of smoke you couldn't breathe," says resident Peggy Fisher.
A perpetual fire burning below the surface at the site has been sending up plumes of thick, black smoke into the air for years and recently flared up again. Residents living near the landfill located off Russell Rd. just off I-220, have complained about the impact of the fires on the environment and their health.
Other cease and desist orders issued to Harrelson have been virtually identical to this one, except this time there is no time frame attached, Glover said. The mayor had requested Jindal shut down the landfill due to repeated violations, a measure the city council unanimously supported.
What came down from the state directs Harrelson to stop certain activities that may spark or perpetuate to smoldering and/or fires. An exception was written into the order to include digging, covering and compacting waste in efforts to extinguish or prevent combustion.
It also requires Harrelson to submit a revised version of a fire mitigation plan by July 1. The company must submit weekly reports to DEQ as to how the plan is being implemented.
"There are lots of folks who are on the wrong side of history on this issue and if that were not the case, then this facility would have been shut down and re mediated a long time ago," Glover said.
"From my perspective, anything short of a permanent closure and remediation is unacceptable because this landfill has been allowed to operate with impunity for years and it clearly threatens the welfare not only of residents in the MLK community, but all Shreveport residents," he said.
DEQ has already conducted more than 25 site visits to the facility, and has an existing active cease and desist order for the company with the same orders and exception in the new order. That order expires June 30.
"DEQ continues to work with local officials and the fire departments to ensure this company is held accountable for ceasing operations and the cause of the smoke," said secretary Peggy Hatch. "We are continuing to test the area and will keep the public informed of all developments."
Representatives recently attended a public informational meeting and said they will continue to keep the public up to date. DEQ responders continue to be in communication with the Shreveport Fire Department and local and state officials, including the state fire marshal and Glover.
The agency sampled air at the site on June 20 and the U.S. EPA did so starting on June 21. The results have not yet been received and analysis is ongoing. Those results will be made available to the public.
DEQ said it will continue its perimeter, site and community monitoring at the site until the situation is remedied.