KMSS exclusive: Owner of Harrelson Materials Mgt speaks out

Tuesday, June 17, 2014 - 3:27pm

Driving down I-220, it's easy to see smoke just above the freeway. 

It's part of a fire that's been burning since 2009 at Harrelson Materials Management, and it's one that owner Michael Harrelson has been trying to put out since it started.

In 2011, an engineer determined that the fire stems from a break in one of the city's water lines. 

Harrelson says he know exactly how to put it out, and is willing to do so with his own money. The problem is, Harrelson says the city isn't allowing his company to put it out. "We talked about tearing the landfill down, deconstructing it, putting it in ponds behind the landfill, putting the fire out for good, and not landfilling anymore.

The constant fires make for a dangerous situation, like spreading to nearby residential properties. That's why the owners are willing to do what they can to keep citizens safe, trying to end the fire by getting rid of the landfill. Harrelson explains the benefits of that. " How amiable would that be to everybody, if the landfill dropped 50 feet in height and the fire was out. Why wouldn't that be something the city government would look at? But they didn't."

Over the years, Harrelson has come up with several proposals, but the city keeps turning them down. That's frustrating for Harrelson, who doesn't understand why. He feels he's being used as a political pawn. Frustrated with city government he added, "public servant was meant, you serve the public, not the public served you.

KMSS tried to talk to the mayor's office, but was told that they can't comment on pending litigation. 

However, the mayor has announced he will discuss that litigation as well as other issues surrounding the landfill at a public meeting on Wednesday. That meeting will be at 6 p.m. at the Southern University Science Lecture Hall on MLK Drive. 


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