Friday, December 27, 2013

2008 comment letter to ADEM on Veolia Landfill 2006

Friends of Hurricane Creek
P.O. Box 40836
Tuscaloosa, AL 35404


To; Russell A. Kelly, Chief
Permits and Services Division
1400 Coliseum Blvd.
[Mailing address: PO Box 301463; Zip 36130-1463] 
Montgomery, Alabama 36110-2059

From; John L. Wathen, 

Dear Sir,

Please accept the following comments in reference to Veolia ES Eagle Bluff Landfill, inc. Permit # 63-16.

The permit renewal application for Veolia ES Eagle Bluff Landfill (“facility”) must be denied for the following reasons.

Ongoing Permit Violations
                        There are many permit violations currently ongoing at this facility.

Despite ADEM’s defense that there are only two inspectors for the entire north Alabama area, the facility maintains ongoing violations of state and federal law and continued non-compliance conditions.  

 The facility’s non-compliance is cause for ADEM to close the facility under Code of Alabama Section I, E, item 1 “Duty to comply”:

 “Any permit noncompliance, other than noncompliance authorized by a variance, constitutes a violation of Code of Alabama 1975, §§ 22-27-1 et seq., as amended and is grounds for enforcement action, permit suspension, revocation, modification, and/or denial of a permit renewal application.”

It is vital to understand that there is an approved T.M.D.L. for Hurricane Creek requiring a significant reduction in turbidity and siltation. The permit, as written, does not adequately address TMDL and will not prevent further degradation of Hurricane Creek.
A complete environmental impact survey should be undertaken to show how Veolia could operate without such degradation.

As of now there is runoff leaving the site from all sides and is not being treated except on the South flank. Water leaving the site from the North, East, & West are running unabated into Hurricane Creek as well as a lake owned by a local resident, then on to Hurricane Creek.
(SEE PHOTO North Face 02 & 03)

                        The Facility Fails to Maintain Proper Operation and Maintenance
The facility is in violation of Section E item 6 of the permit, which requires,

“The Permittee shall at all times properly operate and maintain all facilities and systems of control (and related appurtenances) that are installed or used by the Permittee to achieve compliance with the conditions of this permit.”

In violation of this requirement, there are currently no access roads to the sediment basins for cleanout or sampling. Both ponds are in need of proper maintenance as required by law.

Monitoring Site is Inaccessible
The end of pipe location is so heavily overgrown with briars and brush it is evident that no one has been there for sampling in years. Any reported sampling, is questionable at best given the inaccessibility of the sampling site. (See photo # 1 End of pipe)


Certification of Construction is Required
In violation of, Section I, E, item 12, the facility has failed to provide “Certification of Construction.” We submit that there has been no certification of the additional acreage being constructed in any way that will prevent the eminent discharge of pollutants into the receiving stream.  Furthermore, there are no containment ponds associated with the additional acreage.

 (See photo 2 Aerial violation 1, and 3 Aerial violation 2)

No waste can be placed on this increment until containment ponds are constructed and the current illegal discharging without a permit, and offsite damage, are mitigated. Photo 3 aerial violation 2, above, clearly shows siltation throughout the surrounding woods.

A complaint was made to ADEM field inspector Jim Parker over a year ago who, in turn, called Paul Dabbs in Montgomery. Mr. Dabbs told me on the phone on Dec. 12 that he never inspected concerning that complaint. Therefore no N.O.V was issued. He told me at that time he did not visit this site but “once a year or so”. Mr. Dabbs also informed me that he thought all of the water from the borrow pit went through the ponds. Mr. Dabbs could have never walked over this site and without knowing it does not. I suggest that in the future, inspections be done on the ground instead of from the office and car... All water leaving the “borrow pit” runs unabated and untreated into an unnamed tributary of Hurricane Creek.

I walked this tributary out from the pit to the confluence of another stream coming in from above. The stream above had no siltation. The stream coming from the borrow pit was heavily silted in and the remainder of the tributary all the way to the confluence with Hurricane Creek proper was silted in. There is a large sediment build up at the mouth of the tributary.
 (SEE photos Borrow pit 01, Borrow pit o2 fence, borrow pit 03 silted trib, Borrow pit confluence 01)
 Borrow pit 01 is looking out of the borrow pit towards the trib.

Borrow pit o2 fence is downstream of the railroad tracks. Note the silt fence hanging 2 feet above the creek. This is not proper BMP’s.

Borrow pit confluence 01, is of the confluence of the two streams.

The one on the right is coming from upstream and is clear. The one on the left is Veolia. You can plainly see the difference.

Borrow pit 03 silted trib, is just that. The condition of the stream only worsens as it progresses toward Hurricane Creek.

This has been reported to ADEM on several occasions and still remains a chronic violation of the CWA and this permits requirements. The lack of diligence on ADEM’s part, for whatever reasons, has instilled an air of arrogance in this operator toward environmental requirements and the welfare of our community. Since ADEM has been less diligent due to “manpower” problems, we believe that ADEM needs to issue less permits if they cannot adequately enforce the parameters of existing permits. The reasoning of, “we don’t have the manpower or money to do a better job” is simply admitting failure on the part of the State of Alabama. We suggest to ADEM that if you do not have the manpower to enforce permits, Stop issuing them. Before a permit is issued the data and surveys must be ground-truthed for accuracy.

There is an old discarded waste container that is being used as fuel containment. This does not meet designated spill requirements. It has a full width, walk in gate on one end. It will not contain potential spills. Fuel containment cells must be constructed all sides contained and an impervious liner installed.

Failure to Achieve Inspection Requirements
The facility is also in violation of Section I, E, item G, Line 2, and 3 “Inspection Requirements.”  “”” “The Permittee shall conduct random inspections of incoming loads.”

No such random inspections of incoming load are occurring at the facility.  It has been observed that trucks come and go all day and no one inspects the containers. The only person to see what is dumped is the bull dozier operator. It is too late then. Most of the ground photographs included here were taken while I was out there as a paying customer dumping limbs. I have never seen such inspections. Drivers I have spoken with claim never to have been inspected.

Confidential Information
                        Section I item L,Confidential Information”
In certain circumstances, none of which apply here, the Permittee may claim information submitted as confidential if the information is protected under Code of Alabama 1975, §§ 22-39-18, as amended. However, given the history of non-compliance at this facility, no information should be held confidential. All information submitted should be available for public scrutiny.

The Facility is in Violation of Open Burning Prohibition
Section II, “Open Burning” states “The Permittee shall not allow open burning without prior written approval from the Department and other appropriate agencies. A burn request should be submitted in writing to the Department outlining why that burn request should be granted. This request should include, but not be limited to, specifically what areas will be utilized, types of waste to be burned, the projected starting and completion dates for the project, and the projected days and hours of operation. The approval, if granted, shall be included in the operating record.”

There have been numerous incidents where this facility has openly burned causing noxious odors to inundate the entire area. Tuscaloosa fire Department has been called as well as ADEM. The poisonous gases emitted during one of these burns causes great anxiety throughout neighbors afraid of what they are being exposed to.

Prevention of Unauthorized Disposal
The facility is in violation of, Section II, C, “Prevention of unauthorized disposal “The Permittee shall follow the approved procedures for the detecting and preventing the disposal of free liquids, regulated hazardous waste, PCB's, and medical waste at the facility.”

On many occasions, Spanky’s Roto Rooter trucks have been seen disposing material from their septic pumping trucks and portable toilets in violation of Section II(C). Although raw sewage is not considered a hazardous waste, it is a putrescible material prohibited by the permit. On another occasion the City of Tuscaloosa Sewer department disposed of several hundred cubic feet of contaminated soil and material from a sewage spill estimated at over 1,000,000 gallons of sewage.

Facility Fails to Provide Requisite Boundary Markers
Under Section II, item E, “Boundary Markers,” the facility is required to:

Ensure that the facility is identified with a sufficient number of permanent boundary markers that are at least visible from one marker to the next.”

I have personally hiked around the entire perimeter of the facility staying, as much as possible, off the property. Since there were few boundary markers it was hard to tell when I crossed the line, if at all.

I did find one property line that was marked fairly well but not visible from the road. You have to go about 200 feet into the woods from 12th street. From there the line is marked to the railroad crossing where the markers disappear. There are a few signs along the tracks left over from the days when Superior owned the property. They run about 50 feet from the railroad tracks on the opposite side from the ponds. There are no markers anywhere around the pond. This leads me to believe that the ponds may be located off the permitted property. There are no markers along the Hurricane Creek side visible at all.

 In my opinion it has been too long since any continuous boundary markers existed. We request that a complete new survey be conducted to insure no encroachment onto private property or over filling the new area. This was observed along the line from 12th street. There were several instances where construction steel has been pushed onto private land at some time in the past. This facility has changed hands several times and I doubt in anyone there knows, without doubt where any of the property lines are located.

Waste Streams
Section III, item B, Waste Streams” which prohibits unauthorized disposal of putrescible materials. “The Permittee may accept for disposal non-putrescible and non-hazardous construction and demolition waste including but not limited to wood, trees, stumps, limbs, scrap metal, masonry, leaves, grass clippings, tires, paper, cardboard, cloth scraps, yarn, discarded appliances and similar type of wastes as allowed by ADEM.”

Old tires are not approved C&D fill materials.

On many occasions, Spanky’s Roto Rooter trucks have been seen disposing material from their septic pumping trucks and portable toilets in violation of Section II(C). Raw Sewage is a hazardous waste. On another occasion the City of Tuscaloosa Sewer department disposed of several hundred cubic feet of contaminated soil and material from a sewage spill estimated at over 1,000,000 gallons of sewage.

Appliances are not normally allowed in a C&D landfill. ADEM and Veolia propose the disposal of “discarded appliances.” While there is no formal mercury warning for Hurricane Creek in place, the entire area and most of Alabama’s streams are impaired for mercury pollution.   Because most appliances are equipped with mercury switches, which would further degrade the waters with mercury pollution, they must not be allowed in the landfill without proper impervious containment liners.  Such containment liners must be installed anywhere appliances may be placed. Whether or not Hurricane Creek is under a formal mercury advisory, all precaution must be taken to ensure that no mercury what so ever be introduced into any waterway of the United States.

Waste Placement and Cover
The facility is in violation of Alabama Code, Section III, item D, “Waste Placement and cover” which requires that:

“All waste shall be spread in layers two feet or less in thickness and thoroughly compacted weekly with adequate landfill equipment prior to placing additional layers of waste or placing the weekly cover. A minimum of six inches of compacted earth or other alternative cover material approved by the Department shall be added at the conclusion of each week's operation unless a variance is granted in Section VIII”.

In violation of this requirement, no such variance exists in this facility.  It has been observed and documented that no weekly compaction has occurred for weeks at a time. The trash is placed as much as 10 to 15 feet thick and left for weeks uncovered. With every heavy wind there is a shower of trash leaving the site.
(See Photos thick trash 01 office, 02, 03)
Thick trash 01 office was taken in front of the office. The people running this operation know it is out of compliance. They also know ADEM is not coming to inspect.

Thick Trash 02

           Thick Trash 04
The same location as 02, one week later.  There is about 15 feet of new trash on top of the 15 feet or so from prior weeks.

Thick Trash 03

Environmental Monitoring and Treatment Structures
Section III, item I, “Environmental Monitoring and Treatment Structures”
requires that:

“The Permittee shall provide protection and proper maintenance of environmental monitoring and treatment structures.”

The facility is in violation of this requirement for several reasons.
As was stated above, there are currently no access roads to the sediment basins for        cleanout or sampling. The ponds are both in need of cleaning. The road leading to the       ponds washed out over a year ago.

The end of pipe location is heavily overgrown with briars and brush making it quite evident that no one has been there for sampling in years. Any reported sampling, in my opinion is questionable at best. (See photo End of pipe 02)

Bulk or Non-Containerized Liquid Waste Prohibition
The facility is in violation of Section III, item K, “Bulk, or Non-containerized Liquid Waste” which states:

“The Permittee shall not dispose of bulk or non-containerized liquid waste, or containers capable of holding liquids, unless the conditions of Rule 335-13-4-.23(1)(j) are met.” 

The disposal of effluent pumped from septic tanks by Spanky’s sewer service violates this prohibition.  I, and several of my neighbors have observed and documented this.

Empty Containers Prohibition
The facility is in violation of Section III, item L,“Empty Containers,” which requires:

“Empty containers larger than 10 gallons in size must be rendered unsuitable for holding liquids prior to disposal in the landfill unless otherwise approved by the Department”.

In violation of this section of the code, several 50 gallon barrels, visible from the air as well as from the rail road tracks along the back side of the site, have been observed on the facility property.
(SEE photo, barrels 01)

Litter Control
The facility is in violation of Section III, item Q, “Litter Control” which states,
              The Permittee shall control litter.”

In violation of this section, litter has been observed scattered all around the outside of this site on several occasions. I found it in trees surrounding the Northeast side all along the tracks and along the road leading into the facility. There is a large amount of litter debris in and around Hurricane Creek that stems from this site.
(SEE photos, Litter 01,02,03)


 These photos were taken from various positions around the site. Litter hanging in trees and on the ground. The entire back slope along the tracks had trash scattered from top to bottom blowing in the wind.
 (SEE photos back slope)
Back Slope  

Back Slope 2  

Note the trash in the tops of the pine trees and the visible houses in the upper left corner. They get a bird’s eye view of the trash as it blows their way.

Groundwater Monitoring is Required
                        Section IV “Section IV, Groundwater Monitoring Requirements,”

“Groundwater monitoring is not being required at this landfill provided that the waste stream is in accordance with Section III.B. Should any waste be disposed other than the waste streams indicated in Section III.B, the Department may require that groundwater-monitoring wells be installed.”

In violation of this requirement, “groundwater monitoring is not being conducted at this landfill provided that the waste stream is in accordance with Section III.B. Should any waste be disposed other than the waste streams indicated in Section III.B. the Department may(must?) require that groundwater-monitoring wells be installed.”

The waste stream does not comply with permit standards thereby requiring groundwater-monitoring wells. Because ADEM has permitted the disposal of certain appliances containing mercury switches, treated lumber containing arsenic, copper and other toxic chemicals, a lined containment area is also required.

Additionally, the landfill, according to their signs at the gate, accepts old automobiles (also containing mercury switches) and tires, adequate landfill liner must also be installed to prevent the seepage of oils, antifreeze, gasoline, and other toxic products associated with oil bearing equipment into the soil and thereby contaminating ground water. There is evidence of heavy oil sheen on the top of the water in the pond. (SEE photo, Sign 01, oil sheen 01, oil sheen 02)


We further request that, should this permit be renewed, monitoring wells be placed surrounding the entire site to detect any seepage and illicit discharges through groundwater.

Surface Water Management
Under Alabama Code Section VI, “Surface Water Management,” 

“The Permittee shall construct and maintain run-on and run-off control structures to control the discharge of pollutants in stormwater. Any discharges from drainage control structures shall be permitted through a discharge permit issued by the ADEM Water Division.”

In direct violation of this requirement, there are no such structures to control the discharge of pollutants in stormater.  There are no containment ponds on the planned expansion. In accordance with statutory requirements, adequate ponds must be placed on site before any trash can be discarded there.

The expansion of this permit with this many compliance issues is ludicrous! Until the permit is brought back into complete and total compliance there should be no more acceptance of any trash.

It should be noted that the road leading into this site is not wide enough for two trucks to pass without one leaving the road or stopping all together.

There are 27 houses adjoining 12th street with most close enough that mail boxes have been knocked down by trucks pulling over to pass. The county widened the road as much as possible but it is not enough. Some mailboxes now hang over the pavement making it treacherous for residents to get their mail, especially the elderly. Many of these houses are homes of elderly with health and hearing problems. The constant stream of trucks now entering this complex is unbearable. Landowners constantly have to pickup trash that has fallen from passing trucks.

There is a cemetery adjacent to the gate to the dump with graves, literally 3 feet from the road. Passing garbage trucks rumble past covering grieving families with dust and trash. In one incident a mother was burying her young daughter. Trash trucks backed up at the gate halted the procession. One driver refused to move and blew his horn until the hearse backed around into the cemetery to let him pass. The whole procession was halted while this man broke a young girl’s funeral procession for a load of trash.

In conclusion;

This landfill facility has outlived its safe existence. To increase the size will require dirt to be hauled in to cover “EVERY WEEK”. The number of trucks will double with this increase. It is only a matter of time before someone is killed there by one of these inconsiderate drivers.

Landfills are necessary. They should, however be located in places where they have safe access and pose no threats to the environment. This one does neither of these things. It has chronic history of non-compliance and lack of diligent enforcement issues. The entire area of Holt is economically distressed, with this facility located in a densely populated predominately black neighborhood. This is a classic example of environmental injustice at best.

This landfill has become a trash mountain, visible for miles around. People should not have to invest their life’s savings into a home only to have a trash mountain rise up from the treetops in full view and smell of such facilities. When this place burns, as it does at times, the smoke can be seen and smelled by hundreds of citizens in the area.

It is time to close Veolia ES Eagle Bluff Landfill forever.

We respectfully request a public hearing to present our case. We further request that said hearing be held in close proximity to the permit so the elderly involved can attend.


John L. Wathen,
Friends of Hurricane Creek
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Who has the authority to say someone else
 is not being a good steward of the environment?

Anyone who notices 

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