State shouldn't be garbage capital

Published 5:39 am Monday, February 25, 2008

By Staff
As acting secretary for Citizens for a Clean Southwest Alabama organization, I have been doing research pertaining to landfills for the past year. CCSA has been fighting to stop a proposed 3,000 acre landfill in southwest Conecuh County. When a proposal was made recently for a construction/demolition landfill in nearby Escambia County, that made me wonder how many of these type landfills are in Alabama.
Since Hurricane Ivan and Katrina I had supposed that several construction/demolition landfills are in existence. So, I did some research into the Alabama Department of Environmental Management Land Division Waste Program Branch publication titled Permitted Municipal Solid Waste Landfill, revision date: Sept. 19, 2007. I found that landfills accept waste in tons and cubic yards.
In Alabama there are 92 construction/demolition landfills accepting a total of 22,172.96 cubic yards or 16,087 tons per day. The definition of construction/demolition landfills is they accept waste building materials, packaging and rubble resulting from construction, remodeling, repair or demolition operations on houses, commercial buildings, and other structures. Such wastes include, but are not limited to, masonry materials, sheet rock, roofing waste, insulation (not including asbestos) scrap metal and wood products. Uncontaminated concrete, soil, brick, old or weathered waste asphalt paving, ash resulting from the combustion of untreated wood, rock and similar materials are excluded from this definition (335-12-1-.03(31)). This statement is unclear to me; I don't know if they do or don't accept this type of waste.
There are 54 industrial landfills accepting 41,041.2 cubic yards or 5,807.8 tons per day. Industrial waste is solid waste generated by manufacturing or industrial processes that is not a hazardous waste regulated under Subtitle C of RCRA (as defined in 335-13-1-.03 (63)).
There are 31 permitted municipal solid waste landfills in Alabama accepting a total of 52,205 tons of waste per day. A municipal solid waste landfill unit is defined as a discrete area of land or an excavation that receives household waste, and that is not a land application unit, surface impoundment, injection well or waste pile as those terms are defined in this rule. A MSWLF unit also may receive other types of solid wastes, such as commercial solid waste, non-hazardous sludge, conditionally exempt small quantity generator waste, industrial solid waste, construction/demolition waste and/or rubbish.
Such a landfill may be publicly or privately owned. A MSWLF unit may be a new MSWLF unit, an existing MSWLF unit or a lateral expansion. A municipal solid waste landfill unit is a sanitary landfill.
The 31 permitted solid waste landfills in Alabama accept waste from a total of 16 states, plus Pike County Landfill accepts from all states east of the Mississippi River. Just in southwest Alabama, within a 150 mile area of Evergreen, there are six landfills accepting 21,000 tons of waste per day from all states east of the Mississippi River. Two county, Turkey Trot Landfill is not on the permitted list but is expected to open in 2008, according to the Washington County Solid Waste Authority.
Emelle, Alabama is home to what once was the nation's largest hazardous waste landfills. It is unclear if it still has that rating. There are plans in Washington County to have a recycling facility, hazardous waste incinerator. This is being proposed by the MOWA Tribe. According to Chief Wilburn Taylor, the tribe has been working on this project for eight years.
We do not need another landfill that will accept waste from all 48 states. We do not want the State of Alabama to be known as the garbage capital of the United States. With ADEM rules so easy to obtain a landfill permit in the state of Alabama (Most of which are obtained by out of state entities then sold for millions), Alabama does not need to be left holding the “garbage bag.”
Connie S. Howington
Secretary, CCSA
EvergreenSteve Flowers served 16 years in the state Legislature. He may be reached at