About 80 to 90 concerned citizens met at the Circle M Builders building in County Line Saturday to register opposition to the proposed County Line landfill.
State Sen. Scott Beason attended the meeting to hear citizen concerns. He spoke briefly saying that he was there mainly to learn about citizen reaction to the proposed landfill and that his inquiries into the matter so far had produced only preliminary and sketchy information.
“I’m trying to follow my new policy of getting my facts together on an issue before I take a position on it, but from what I know so far, it sounds like this is something we don’t need,” he said. He pledged to look into the matter further.
Citizens at the meeting expressed a number of reasons for opposing the landfill. Gloria Kennedy, identifying herself as someone who had moved into the community recently, had this to say:
“Me and the children have built brand new homes, but we’re not from here. I’ve been told all of these town council members are related. If they’re all related to each other and the person selling the land for the landfill is related to them, could that be legal?
“Plus, the way they’re operating, you can’t tell what’s being done or even when the meetings are. I got a copy of the Blount Banner that said in a small article that the next meeting is April 19. But when I called the town to check on it, a Mr. Ivey (the town clerk) told me the meeting was canceled.” ‘ADEM is not your friend’
Blount Solid Waste Authority chairman Bob Shows, who was present at the meeting, observed that the Blount Banner notice is still the official public meeting notification, and advised citizens to show up for the meeting at that time, and bring as many supporters as they could muster.
“The fastest way to stop this is now,” he said. “Bring as many people to the meeting as you can crowd into that room – you’ll have to be good friends to do it because that city hall is small. Put signs in everybody’s yards. They’ll be counting those signs.
“And remember, ADEM (The Alabama Department of Environmental Management) is not your friend. They’re not in the business of denying permits. Get in touch with the governor and with your elected representatives like Sen. Beason here and Elwyn Thomas, your state representative.
“But I would definitely show up here on April 19 and bring everybody you can bring. You need a couple hundred people. They’ll have to pay attention to that,” he said.
Shows asked for a show of hands of citizens who had written letters to the town council. None raised their hands.
“Write!” Shows said. “Post signs. Letters and signs mean a lot. They’re counting letters and signs.”
Another citizen commented that the liner that was supposed to protect the water table from contamination by the landfill was so thin that it would inevitably fail over time.
“Years ago, we had an incident where chemicals were pumped into an old mine shaft and it drained into Long Branch and directly into the Locust Fork River,” he said. “It caused sores on the fish, and you couldn’t eat the fish, and the people that did had to go to the doctor. If they put that landfill in, something like that’s bound to happen. Bound to.”
Brian Malone, who said he lives in Green Acres subdivision directly adjacent to the proposed landfill site, volunteered to contribute $1000 to hire “an EPA lawyer to put a stop to this.” He said his father would also put up $1000 toward the lawyer’s fee, and asked if others would do the same.
Opposition mounts on other fronts
Meanwhile, opposition on other fronts developed as well. Council members at Trafford discussed the landfill in their regular meeting on March 21. As a result, a letter was drafted and signed by the mayor communicating the town’s opposition.
“The Town of Trafford mayor and council members stated emphatically ‘no’ (town’s boldface) for this project to even be started because it will be so close to our town and its people,” the letter said.
Noting that the Blount County Commission, the Blount County Solid Waste Authority, and the Regional Planning Commission all oppose the landfill, the mayor and council of Locust Fork voted unanimously at their meeting of March 22 to join those entities in “strongly opposing approval of this facility by ADEM, as it would have a tremendously negative impact on our community.”
The letter observed “the route of travel for trucks hauling waste to the proposed landfill would likely be state highway 79, which has only one lane of travel in each direction and no center turn lane. Being the main thoroughfare for our community and the location of several severe automobile accidents, the addition of approximately 75 round trips per day by waste-hauling vehicles will create unacceptable risk for the families of Locust Fork.”
The Blount County Commission followed through its motion of March 14 to notify the Alabama Department of Environmental Management that it opposes the landfill. The March 16 letter noted that the Commission had voted unanimously to oppose the landfill, stating that “the Commission desires to express their very strong opposition to its creation.”
In a recent letter, Shows asked Gov. Robert Bentley to extend his recently announced moratorium on landfills exceeding 500 acres and 1500 tons of waste per day to include all new landfills.
“The reason is,” he said in the letter “that otherwise all applications will now be reduced to be less than 1500 tons per day, and less than 500 acres. They will only have to ask for an expansion later, and it will be granted by ADEM. Please also give your help in stopping this Town of County Line landfill.”
County Line had initially transmitted a copy of its Solid Waste Management Plan to ADEM on Nov. 9, 2010. ADEM must approve the solid waste plan prior to accepting a permit application for the landfill from the town.
On Dec. 1, ADEM notified County Line that it had completed its review of the solid waste management plan. Five deficiencies were noted in the plan and the town was told all deficiencies must be addressed before ADEM could approve the plan. Deficiences noted were all technical requirements, but appeared to be substantial, particularly respecting the local government’s relation to its own citizens.
It is thought by those close to the process that the town of County Line is preparing to submit a revised solid waste management plan as specified by ADEM. The ADEM letter noted that the deficiencies must be addressed “subject to the public participation requirements of the Code of Alabama 1975, §22-27-47(f).”
Part of the revision process, it is thought, is to reduce the daily tonnage proposed to be less than specified in the governor’s moratorium of Feb. 23.