Alabama Department of Environmental Management
Work on Landfill Fire ‘Proceeding Well,’ ADEM Director Says
ADEM Director Lance LeFleur said on Friday that smoke from the underground landfill in Moody has been greatly reduced and the EPA expects the fire to be out in a matter of weeks, or sooner.
In a statement, LeFleur said work is proceeding well at the site.
Personnel from the Alabama Department of Environmental Management are on site every day, he said, even though the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has taken the lead in putting out the fire. EPA came in after it conducted tests that found the presence of four chemicals above the accepted minimal risk level on the fire site and two of the chemicals above the accepted minimal risk level at one home about 300 feet from the fire, according to the statement.
Air in around the site now is being monitored at six stationary monitors and by EPA mobile air monitors. Additionally, ADEM is monitoring the water. Those tests have not shown any discernable effect on water quality from the fire, according to the statement.
ADEM provides regular updates on the work at MoodyFireUpdate.com.
“This fire is an extraordinary event,” LaFleur said in the statement. “It exposed shortcomings in the ability and authority of state and local governments to respond to situations that are outside the scope of regulated activities but nonetheless pose risks to the public. We are in talks with representatives of county governments and other agencies about ways to close these gaps.”
The fire at an environmental landfill in St. Clair County began almost three months ago. Efforts to put it out are complicated because the fire is burning underground and breaking through to the surface. Residents as far away as Mountain Brook have complained of the smoke and smell from the site drifting into their neighborhoods. Residents close to the site have it worse. Some families have had to move temporarily because the smoke has caused asthma attacks and other sicknesses as well as lowering their overall quality of life.
In the statement, LaFleur said: “First, I want to express our sincere empathy and concern for those who have had their lives upended by the fire at the vegetative waste disposal site near Moody. We know many have been affected by smoke. Some have had to temporarily move to avoid exposure. We have heard people’s frustrations – and we share them.”
Critics showed up in force to an Alabama Environmental Management Commission on Friday morning to say that ADEM was too slow to take action at the landfill and criticized the state for not having a law requiring that environmental landfills be regulated.
Advocates Criticize State Environmental Commission About Response to Moody Landfill Fire, WBHM
LeFleur disagreed and said ADEM had been involved in the effort to put out the fire since it first began and will continue to be involved until it’s extinguished.
“As we have stated before, ADEM will investigate and take appropriate enforcement action against the site operator after the fire is out,” he said in the statement.
“Our goal, as always, is to protect the health and safety of our citizens and the environment and to make sure we have the tools and authority to do so. We must work together and do all we can to ensure an incident like this does not happen again.