Monitors show a month-old Alabama landfill fire polluting the air

MOODY, Ala. (AP) — An underground fire at an Alabama landfill has further polluted the air in eastern parts of the Birmingham area more than 50 days after an underground fire broke out, according to air quality monitors.

Monitors around the Moody landfill are picking up pollution and neighbors are still complaining of smoke, local news outlets reported.

The air quality monitor closest to the fire registered unhealthy conditions Monday morning, reported, although the monitor later reported an improvement in air quality. Another air quality monitor in Trussville showed pollution levels that are acceptable but may pose a risk to some people with 24-hour or more exposure, particularly those who are unusually sensitive to air pollution.

In late December, air quality levels near the fire were often well above the dangerous level, which is worse than the unhealthy level.

Jennifer Moore, who lives about 15 minutes from the landfill, told WBRC-TV that she can smell the burning, especially when it’s raining.

Her son, 12-year-old Colton Moore, uses a ventilator when he sleeps. Jennifer Moore said the filter is now dark and covered almost entirely in black, sparking health concerns.

“It fills our lungs with toxins and poisons and it’s awful,” Moore said. “Something needs to be done because 15 years from now I can just watch the infomercial that comes along and tells you ‘if you’ve been affected by the Moody fires’ and all of that because it’s bad.”

In December, a class action lawsuit was filed against the owners and operators of Environmental Landfill, Inc., which owns the property. The lawsuit, filed in St. Clair County, cites inspection reports from the Alabama Department of Environment. They note the presence of unauthorized waste at the landfill and describe the site as a fire hazard.

Company officials declined to comment to news outlets.

St. Clair County Commission Chairman Stan Batemon said he still gets smoke complaints but the fire is actually shrinking.

“It doesn’t burn anymore, it burns less,” he said.

He said ADEM officials told him the smoke was enclosing the ground and worsening air quality in the mornings and evenings.

St. Clair County has declared a state of emergency but doesn’t have the authority to spend money on private property, Batemon said. He said the fire could take a month or more to burn out.

Environmental experts have warned against pouring water on the fire, Batemon said, saying steam could carry more contaminants into the air and pollute the Cahaba River.