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DEQ attempting to shut down Tri-City Regional Landfill

PETERSBURG, Va. -- One month after a lawsuit was filed against Container First Services (CFS), the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) notified CFS that they are starting the process to revoke their solid waste permit.

Last month, after multiple complaints and violations filed against the Tri-City Landfill, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring and the DEQ took action. During a November 19 inspection, the DEQ identified issues with the operation of the landfill. In the lawsuit, Herring cited repeated violations of the Virginia Waste Management Act.

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 regarding the landfill's foul smell.

Colonial Heights Mayor Greg Kochuba and Petersburg Director of Public Works and Utilities Tangela Innis said they get many complaints about the Petersburg landfill.

"One of the complaints the citizens have is the smell of the landfill and how high it is," Innis told CBS 6.

In the suit, Herring alleged CFS failed to correct 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,” Attorney General Herring said.

If the solid waste permit is revoked, Tri-City Landfill would shutdown. This would cause an issue for the Tri-Cities as CFS picks up trash for Colonial Heights, Petersburg, Hopewell, and parts of Prince George County.

But, according to Innis, the city's contract is not in jeopardy.

“They are still responsible for picking up trash in the city," said Innis.

The city’s and county's contract go through Central Virginia Waste Management. Local governments surrounding the landfill have been in contact with them just in case the landfill closes.

"Central Virginia Waste Management has a bond, financial support to provide another carrier to get us through the five-year contract at the same rate," Kochuba said.

As of right now, trash that is collected in the Tri-Cities is taken to Petersburg, but according to Innis, it doesn't end up there.

"From there it is being transferred to Lunenburg for disposal," she said.

That isn't the only concern Petersburg has with CFS.

"Container First Services still owes the city roughly $436,000," Innis told CBS 6.

Because of how long the process takes it won't be until 2019 before it is decided if the permit is revoked and if the landfill is shut down.

CBS 6 editor Angie Judson contributed to this article.