Video: Adair County landfill reopening brings concerns
|A newly reconstructed leachate pond with raised sides and a liner catches water that leaches from waste dumped at the Cherokee Nation Landfill. Previously, the pond overflowed during heavy rains. (Photo by Will Chavez)|
By Will Chavez Staff Writer CHERRY TREE, Okla. – As a mid-July date looms for the reopening of the Cherokee Nation Landfill in Adair County, resident Nathan Moton is worried about how the landfill will be operated. Nearly two years ago the landfill was closed because the company operating it – Indian Country Investments – couldn’t comply with CN environmental regulations, with some of those violations affecting Moton and his neighbors. Under ICI, Moton said, trash was not covered daily with dirt, which is required. It attracted rats and other animals, with some animals dying in the debris. Those dead animals attracted vultures. At one point, Moton said, an area of trees below the landfill died from too many vultures nesting and defecating in them. “I guess vultures can eat anything without dying. There was so many of them it killed out the hollow,” he said. “The Nation got on to ICI and fined them, but hell, they were just fining themselves.” In 2007, the CN Environmental Protection Commission fined ICI more than $1 million for environmental violations, including leakage from an unlined storage pond, excessive methane gas levels and failing to adequately cover refuse with soil. Moton said at one point ICI admitted to having 21 days of non-covered trash. “At the end of the day, all trash that’s dumped is supposed to be covered. That’s with any landfill,” he said. “They never covered the trash. It was six to eight months after they closed before they finally got it all covered.” After two years of operating the landfill, ICI closed it in October 2007. Cherokee Nation Businesses took control of it in early 2008. Now Cherokee Nation Waste Management, which operates under CNB, will screen and handle the client list for entities wanting to dump in it.