Alabama tells EPA to fight flaming landfill fires for 7 weeks

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey announced the state is turning to the US Environmental Protection Agency to help put out a landfill fire that has been burning north of Birmingham for more than seven weeks.

“By authorizing the EPA to respond to this fire, we ensure it is addressed as quickly and safely as possible,” Ivey said in a press release Wednesday.

The press release said details of the agreement with the EPA would be released shortly Wednesday afternoon.

“It is imperative that this situation is resolved and resolved properly for the benefit of the people of Moody and everyone affected by this fire,” Ivey said.

The governor also declared a state of emergency to give local officials more resources to deal with the blaze.

“I’m excited about this next step, and to make sure we’re doing everything possible at the state level, I’m also imposing a limited state of emergency for St. Clair County to give local officials another layer of support in dealing with this fire.” ,” She said.

The fire has been burning mostly underground at Environmental Landfill, Inc., about 15 miles northeast of Birmingham, since at least November 25.

The landfill is located in unincorporated St. Clair County between the Birmingham suburbs of Moody and Trussville, but smoke from the fire has been reported as far south as Grandview Medical Center on US Highway 280 south of town.

Local residents living near the fire have reported sometimes debilitating symptoms from smoke exposure, including headaches, nosebleeds, a sore throat, trouble sleeping and an odor that never goes away.

Some have left the area to stay in rentals or with family, but many cannot afford that option. They’ve taken action, including buying air purifiers for their homes and sealing doors and windows with painter’s tape to try to keep the outside air out.

The landfill, where by law the fire should only accept “green waste” such as fallen trees, brushwood and leaves. As such, the landfill bypasses most of the rules and regulations that other types of landfills are required to follow.

However, many local residents and even ADEM inspectors have reported seeing unauthorized material such as tires, household waste, equipment and more on the site.

ADEM has said it will investigate the situation after the fire was put out to determine whether open burning violations or illegal dumping of unauthorized material on the site occurred.

St. Clair County Commission Chairman Stan Batemon said the area will likely be a crime scene after the fire is put out, and a class action lawsuit has been filed against the owners and operators of the landfill on behalf of local residents affected by the smoke.

Portable air quality monitors have been installed throughout affected areas to measure fine particulate matter in the air, occasionally showing results well above the US Air Quality Index’s “dangerous” threshold.

More sensitive US Environmental Protection Agency air quality monitors have been installed at the site, but these samples have yet to be analyzed in the lab and the results have not yet been made available.

*This post will be updated as more details become available.