Attorney General and DEQ file suit over ‘repeated violations’ at Tri-City Regional Landfill

PETERSBURG, Va. -- Attorney General Mark Herring and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality have announced a lawsuit over repeated waste management violations at the Tri-City Landfill in the City of Petersburg.

In the lawsuit against the CFS Group Disposal & Recycling Services, LLC (CFS), Herring cites repeated violations of the Virginia Waste Management Act.

According to the lawsuit, Herring contends that CFS exceeded the permitted waste pile height, failed to properly maintain its stormwater control system, failed to adequately cover exposed waste, and failed to maintain the required amount of extra waste cover.

Earlier this year, a CBS 6 Problem Solvers investigation found that between since January 1 and the beginning of March, the DEQ received at least 17 complaints from about a dozen different people about the foul smell at the landfill.

“It smacks you right in the face,” said Samantha Pruett.

“Turns your stomach honestly, it’s just not pleasant, it’s disgusting,” said Kayla Jarratt, both of whom work in the Southpark area of Colonial Heights.

In the suit, Herring alleges that CFS failed to correct the violations in a timely manner despite repeated notifications. Those notifications were issued by the DEQ in September 2015, July 2017, July 2018 and August 2018.

“CFS repeatedly received warnings that it was in violation of the law, but it continued to ignore its responsibility to protect the land, air and water around the Tri City Landfill and failed to comply with waste management permits and regulations,” said Attorney General Herring. “Today, we are asking the court to ensure that CFS stops these violations and compensates Virginia accordingly for its role in damaging the environment around its Petersburg facility.”

The Tri-City Landfill is located in the City of Petersburg in the area where the city, Colonial Heights and Prince George come together.

More than 90 percent of the trash that comes into the landfill each day comes from the Tri-Cities area and Central Virginia.

Officials with CFS tell CBS 6 that as of June of 2018, they no longer accept trash from out of state.

The Commonwealth alleges in the suit four counts of illegal actions by CFS at the landfill:

  • Failure to comply with Solid Waste Permit conditions regarding slope and elevation and continuing to place waste in areas of the landfill where those areas had already exceeded the final elevation
  • Failure to adequately maintain the landfill’s stormwater control systems, including allowing drains to become clogged, resulting in a breach of the landfill’s containment area and causing a runnel at the landfill to flood
  • Failure to maintain adequate daily cover, including allowing an approximately 15,000 square foot area of waste to remain uncovered for a period of a week
  • Failure to maintain a stockpile of at least three days’ worth of acceptable cover soil or other approved cover material be readily available at all times for use as daily cover of waste

The lawsuit asks the court to order CFS to comply with waste management laws and regulations, for the maximum allowable civil penalties.

The company released this statement late Thursday:

"Meridian Waste purchased CFS Disposal & Recycling in 2017 and is aware that the lawsuit allegations date back to 2015 and 2016 prior to our purchase of the facility," Meridian Waste's Chief Marketing Officer Mary O’Brien said. "We cannot comment on pending litigation; however, we have amended operations to greatly reduce waste disposal at the Tri-City Landfill and to transfer materials to a different Virginia permitted landfill while the site undergoes operational improvements."

Those officials also said the landfill made significant changes since June, including only accepting 100 tons a trash a day instead of the permitted 1,000 tons and that the landfill is no longer accepting out-of-state trash.

For years the landfill was run by the City of Petersburg but was sold to CFS in 2009.