Landfill worries residents
Published 9:22 am Wednesday, March 7, 2007
By By Lisa Tindell – news writer
Residents in the community surrounding the Timberlands Landfill on U.S. 41 are more than a little confused and more than a little upset.
Published reports that residue from a mercury cell chlorine plant in McIntosh has been dumped at the Allied Waste-owned landfill have residents - and city officials - concerned. The Olin Corporation owns the McIntosh facility, which apparently produced the waste.
Attempts to contact officials at the landfill Tuesday were unsuccessful.
A story about the landfill first appeared in the Mobile Press-Register on Sunday.
Brewton city officials have expressed concern over the dumping of the mercury-laced waste at the landfill.
Smith said he was told by Phillip D. Davis, chief of the industrial hazardous waste branch of the Alabama Department of Environmental Management, that the waste is not hazardous material but has hazardous components.
The residue delivered to Timberlands Landfill contained mercury at 172 parts per million which is considerably higher than the 1 part per million found in drilling muds, the Press-Register reported.
ADEM sent a December letter to the Brewton landfill allowing it to accept the Olin material, according to the newspaper. In the letter, the agency described the wastes as “drilling mud,” which is typically associated with oil and gas exploration, not the chlorine manufacture process that Olin once used, the Press-Register said.
ADEM's letter contained no mention of the high mercury levels in the Olin wastes, nor of the fact that they were associated with a federal Superfund site, the article said. Since 1984, the Olin facility has been on the Superfund list, which recognizes the most polluted sites in the nation.
Smith said he was told by Davis that the waste in question was produced between 1952 and 1968 and was classified as brine well sands.
Hazardous waste materials produced before the modern rules went into effect in 1988 are typically addressed on a case-by-case basis, according to the Press-Register report. If ADEM had applied the hazardous waste designation to the Olin materials, the company might have been required to direct its dump trucks to an approved hazardous waste landfill such as the Emelle facility in Sumter County, which is designed to capture and contain the toxic compounds buried there, the Press-Register reported. Such facilities typically charge much more than landfills approved for household garbage, such as Timberlands in Brewton.