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Benton County Residents Fight For Landfill Closure

By Cyndi Lundeberg
By Clundeberg@wbbjtv.com

CAMDEN, Tenn. - Roy Sharpe said 12 years ago he was driving along Old Mills Circle when he spotted his dream home and knocked on the door and offered to purchase it from the owner right on the spot. He said what he did not know then was that his dream home would soon become a nightmare.

"It's to a point where you hear people talking like somebody should blow it up, bomb it. It's got to the point they're always asking 'what makes people do thing to endanger someone else'. Well, this would make anyone get to that point," Sharpe said.

For years, Camden residents said they have been suffering the repercussions of a recycling plant thats waste product has confined residents to their home and even in some cases hospitalized those living near the site.


The Whitworths said their family has lived in the area since1927. They said the EWS landfill has turned their lives upside down.

"It would keep us from having any outdoor activities," said Whitworth.

Sharpe said the landfill has been detrimental to his health.

"Since this has come in I've passed out. I've had to go to the hospital for fluids," he said.

Elizabeth Murphy represents more than Camden residents who filed suit against the Tennessee Department of Conservation for allowing the EWS landfill to continue operating. Chancellor Carol McCoy heard the case and ruled in favor of the residents on the grounds the landfill did not obtain a permit to operate properly.

"At last it seems someone is listening to us and trying to help us," said Virginia Whitworth.

However for many residents, this victory has come at a heavier cost than their property value. Sharpe said his wife is still so affected by the looming ammonia smell she is forced to sleep in a closet in their home, as that is the only area in their house without a vent to the outside.

"It's not fair to have to live in the situation we're living in. We work all our lives to get to the point where we can retire and enjoy our family and grand kids and something like this happens we cant even enjoy our home we cant even enjoy going outside," said Sharpe.

Elizabeth Murphy the legal representative for many Camden residents said this is a promising victory for her clients.

She said the state has 30 days to respond at which point decisions regarding the plants operation could come into question.