SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - The landfill that has sparked ongoing concerns over the years about the health of nearby residents and environmental quality has been ordered shut down by the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality. The Order to Close was issued Thursday to Harrelson Materials Management, Inc., was signed by DEQ Secretary Peggy Hatch, and requires HMM to extinguish the subsurface fires that still burn and close the company's landfill on Russell Road in north Shreveport.
Neighbors expressed relief Thursday night that their long fight to close a burning landfill is now official.
"I always doubt(ed) that we could actually get it closed down, which, you know what I'm saying. It should have been closed down for years. It should have never even got there," says Kenneth Jackson, who lives near the landfill in Shreveport's Martin Luther King, Junior neighborhood.
Jackson fondly recalls a time when that land was nothing but a grazing pasture and looks forward to the day the cleanup leaves it as a green space once again. But even with the official announcement from DEQ, there is a lot of skepticism surrounding whether it will actually happen and whether it will be done right.
According to a written statement of the DEQ plan, "The landfill will be disassembled, the subterranean fires extinguished and the waste returned to the landfill and covered with soil in compliance with state solid waste regulations."
But Kenneth Jackson is among those who are taking a wait and see approach. "We just have to see where we have to go from here, as for the damage that is done because it's still there, even though it's closed down. You still have all of the material and the debris, all the toxins or whatever that was buried in that."
The DEQ order comes after two months of public meetings and hearings by city and state officials. "We're elated by the closure," says one of resident of the neighborhood and a neighbor of the landfill. "But then there's still unresolved issues concerning the citizens health."
The work to shut down the landfill will be overseen by the DEQ, whose personnel will visit the site daily. DEQ officials estimate the closure should be completed in about six months.
Shreveport Mayor Cedric Glover was not satisfied with the order, however. Within hours of the order being issued, Glover was tweeting his reaction, pointing out that, according to the DEQ order, "putting out the fire doesn't even have to begin until February 2015," and that Harrelson can continue to accept waste while working to put out the fires. "In fact NO stoppage of collection until fire's out."
"LA DEQ has served to enable Harrelson's abuse of Cooper Road/MLK/Shreveport residents for more than 20 plus years. It seems to be continuing."