MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A burning landfill in southeast Memphis is not just creating a bad smell, but it's also potentially harming the environment.
The South Shelby Landfill on Malone Road burned for multiple days beginning Saturday before the fire was put out this week. Medical waste, pesticides and asbestos are all products that could have been in the fire, the Sierra Club says.
A notice was given to the company presiding over the landfill, Republic Services, by the Tennessee Department of Conservation after the latest fire at the South Shelby Landfill this weekend.
After burning all weekend, the fire has been extinguished, but that doesn't erase potentially hazardous materials that entered the air.
“These landfills take industrial wastes from numerous generators," Sierra Club program coordinator Scott Banbury said. "We don’t know exactly what was on fire, so there could have been materials in there that were on fire that put out health-harming materials that people breathed in.”
The state said Republic Services failed to notify them about the fire in a timely fashion.
“The enforcement doesn’t necessarily punish the company enough to make them really change their practices," Banbury said. "It ends up just being a cost of doing business.”
Sure enough, after WREG reached out to Republic Services, they issued a statement saying the fire was made from municipal solid waste that is regularly accepted at the facility.
TDEC said they’re satisfied the fire has been put out and no longer provides a risk to public safety or the environment, but if residents see clouds over the landfill or smell something in the air, they’re encouraged to contact public officials.
“People can reach out to their city council members, to the city mayor and say this is an important issue to us. We want you to pay more attention," Banbury said.
TDEC can be reached at (901) 371-3000, and the Shelby County Conservation Board can hear issues at (901) 222-7801.