A toxic underground landfill fire has been burning in Alabama for weeks

The Alabama landfill fire in mid-December 2022.

Since then, an underground landfill fire has been smoldering November, causing poisonous Smoke hitting residents in a rural Alabama county. OOfficials have asked the Environmental Protection Agency for help to find a way to put it out the fire.

The Fire at the Environmental Landfill, Inc., The landfill was mostly underground in the unincorporated county of St. Clair. It is about 15 miles northeast of Birmingham, between the suburbs of Moody and Trussville. Residents in those areas have said the ongoing fire is making them sick, AL.com reports

The landfill will only legally accept green waste such as leaves and fallen trees. But officials have found unauthorized waste at the landfill, like appliances and tires, contributing to the dangerous fumes. The site is privately owned and not subject to government regulation, as it “officially” does not accept hazardous waste, the Associated Press reports.

Seven Weeks in the Smoke: How Alabama residents are coping with the Moody Landfill fire

The fumes of the fire affect the locals. Some residents have bought air purifiers for their homes and sealed their windows and doors to keep the odor out, AL.com reported. Some have gone the area entirely.

in a (n Interview with AL.comasaid rea resident Brice Armstrong Spending time outside is difficult now because of the fire. “The smell has gotten really bad. it comes into the housesaid Armstrong in an online video. “It often happens that we can’t do what we want to do just because of the smell.”

Jennifer Lewis, another area resident interviewed in the AL.com video, originally moved to the county because she thought it would be a peaceful place to live with her family. Had Lewis known that unauthorized items had been dumped illegally in the landfill for years, She would never have moved to this area, she said. “Every single person in my house has health issues from this,” she said. “We had nosebleeds, sore throats, burning throats, headaches.”

Alabama officials have checked with the US Environmental Protection Agency intervene and help them put out the ongoing fire. The Alabama Department of Environmental Management announced this week that the agency has begun working with local groups to put them out the flames. Local authorities have limited capacity to fight the fire and hope that EPA’s involvement will help put an end to this.

“Neither ADEM nor the county has the experience or expertise to extinguish a fire of this nature,” ADEM Director Lance LeFleur said in a press release this week. “EPA uses contractors with experience and knowledge to do this type of work. ADEM and state and local officials have concluded that the most effective and safest way to put out the fire is for EPA to lead the effort, and we have reached an agreement with EPA to accomplish this.”

The support is especially important because of the landfill fire underground. That can expose First responders and firefighters for hazards such as flare-ups or collapses, the AP reported.

A hedgehoglocal want Alabama agencies like the Department of Environmental Management to take responsibility for how long the fire has lasted. They are angry that they were exposed to fumes two months. “[ADEM is] They are there to protect us and the environment, and they have allowed this tragedy to continue for so long,” Lewis said. “I also want the property owner to be held accountable for what they are allowed to do.”