Local Citizens, Conservation Group File Suit Seeking Cleanup of Alleged Water Contamination in Dickson County, Tennessee

Governments Sued over Disposal of Toxic Waste at Landfill

WASHINGTON (March 4, 2008) – The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and two residents of Dickson, Tennessee, Sheila Holt-Orsted and Beatrice Holt, today filed a lawsuit against the Dickson County and City governments.  The Complaint alleges that trichloroethylene (TCE), an industrial chemical disposed at the Dickson Landfill that has been linked to neurological and developmental harm and cancer, poses an imminent and substantial endangerment to human health and the environment. 

The Complaint alleges:

  • TCE pollution has seeped deep beneath the Landfill to underlying groundwater and has today spread through a large swath of Dickson County.  TCE contamination has rendered water from wells and springs two to three miles from the Landfill unfit for human consumption.  Polluted spring water is flowing directly into the West Piney River, a fishing stream and a major source of drinking water for the Water Authority of Dickson County.  Several square miles of Dickson County have been recognized as an ‘imminent threat’ area by the County.  TCE contamination above drinking water limits, and orders of magnitude above United States Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) drinking water screening levels, has been found in at least one well even outside that threat area.  In some areas, this TCE contamination may be growing worse.
  • Defendants County and City of Dickson, Tennessee (“Defendants”), the Landfill’s owners and operators, have not taken steps necessary to remove this TCE contamination.  Some two decades after TCE was first detected in nearby drinking water sources, those responsible have not even fully characterized the present extent and likely future spread of the contamination.  Defendants have, in effect, surrendered the ground and surface water of Dickson County to the slow spread of an invisible and toxic chemical.

The Complaint asks the Court to require the Defendants to investigate the present extent and future spread of TCE contamination from the Landfill in the soil, surface water, and groundwater of Dickson County; to remediate and abate TCE contamination; and to “take any additional actions that may be necessary to remedy the endangerment to health and/or the environment from TCE and TCE degradation product contamination associated with the Landfill.”