Sunday, June 22, 2014

Advanced Disposal Landfill... Public Nuisance

Public Nuisance 

By John L. Wathen

Advanced Disposal Landfill / public nuisance
A hearing will take place Wed. June 25th in conjunction with the Tuscaloosa County Commission's normally scheduled Commission meeting in the Commission Chambers at the Tuscaloosa County Courthouse.

The hearing is to address the request by Advanced Disposal Landfill in Holt to increase the waste load entering the landfill by 3 times. To-date, they are allowed to accept 1,000 cubic yards per day. They are requesting an increase to 3,000 cubic yards per day.

If this were a remote location with little residential contact I wouldn’t have a problem but this isn’t the case. Crescent Ridge Road in Holt is the direct path for every trash truck entering the landfill. All turn onto 12th street that is barely wide enough for 2 cars, let alone scores of huge trucks. These are not little pickup trucks with a load of leaves. They are large trucks with trash bins carrying many yards of debris from current construction as well as demolition of buildings. Some built long ago when asbestos and lead based paints were used.

If these things were covered properly and not tracked back into the community there would be less reason for concern. That isn’t the case either.
Advanced Disposal "Mt. Trashkaloosa" seen from Holt Peterson Rd. 03/13/14
The landfill has grown tremendously over the years to a mountain of garbage known to us here as Mt. Traskaloosa. Since 2006, I have documented thousands of potential violations of the Clean Water Act, which were reported to the Alabama Dep. of Environmental Management (ADEM) time after time. ADEM, as usual, has chosen to ignore the chronic nature of the violations and taken no action to curb the ongoing problems.
Landfill discharge to Hurricane Creek
The height of Mt. Traskaloosa makes it an eyesore from all over the community. Bright orange dirt piles resembling scars on the earth, uncovered for weeks on end with blowing garbage. Large sheets of plastic sheeting have been video taped leaving the fill and landing over 100 yards on private lands. Neighbors constantly complain of trash blowing in their yards and into Hurricane Creek. Dust laced with fiberglass insulation and many other dangerous particles are seen regularly spreading across the area. Holt Elementary School is a scant 1,500 feet from the landfill.
ADLF aerial view. Flight provided by SouthWings
ADLF dust and wind blown trash
If the dust created by the mountain of trash weren’t bad enough, the huge trucks entering and leaving the landfill track vast amounts of mud onto 12th street which creates environmental issues for Hurricane Creek, Unsafe driving conditions on 12th street, but more importantly, it creates health and safety issues for the community.

When the mud dries, it becomes a dust cloud that is within 20 to 30 feet from residences. In one case, the road is just 15 feet from a person’s living and dining room. The trucks are driving through all sorts of debris containing solvents, adhesives, old carpet, concrete dust and rubble, paint, and sheetrock debris, plus many more things people are not supposed to breathe on a concentrated level.

The residents along 12th street literally have to stand in the street to check the mailbox. When the trucks became a problem due to congestion, the past County Commission made the problem worse by paving the street wider. Now some of the mailboxes are actually hanging over the pavement making for extremely dangerous living conditions.
Trash truck on 12th street
Big trucks, Little cars, Narrow streets = unsafe driving conditions
Hundreds of photo-documented events have been sent to ADEM with no deterrent action taken since as far back as 2006. Many are a matter of record at ADEM and can be accessed online, however their records do not reflect all of the complaints do to changes in owners.

When the landfill was installed many years ago, it was a small hole in the ground and meant to be used for construction and demolition debris (C&D). When locally operated the landfill there was a better sense of community effort on his part to work with the people impacted. If there were issues, I am told they worked them out as a good neighbor would. After they sold the property to an out of state company it changed, much for the worse.

With each change of hands over the years it has grown to be a substantial nuisance to the community. The current owners, Advanced Disposal are my opinion the worst yet.

I met with a representative of the landfill in June of last year by accident and told him of my intentions to file a complaint if conditions didn’t improve. I was met with a friendly invitation from officials in Florida to work with them to address the issues I had. Later, after several friendly email and phone conversations, I met them unexpectedly around the landfill property the local manager of the facility met me with aggression and threats. I was later served with a trespass notice. That’s not how good neighbors work together.

ADEM did step in with a notice of violation in Nov. 2013, which still today hasn’t been enforced. Every complaint sent to ADEM was forwarded to the landfill to evaluate and make excuses for their chronic problems. Some have been addressed but many, such as the offsite tracking are still as bad as ever.

Street sweepers normally used for litter are used to sweep the mud into the ditches and drainage's along 12th street. Since none of the machinery used was designed to pick the mud up, it only spreads much of it into a fine particulate dust that stays in the air long after the huge trucks stir it up. Using a time-lapse camera on Feb 17, 2014, I documented as many as 73 big trucks in a matter of just 2 hrs, 42 minutes. That comes to roughly 1 truck every 2.2 minutes.

According to a recent Tuscaloosa County Engineers traffic count that number was overwhelmingly proven.
In 1 week the actual count was as follows:

The average daily traffic for the week is 240 vehicles per day

A total of 1675 vehicles were counted for the 7 day study

Looking at the hours from 5:00 am to 10:00 pm only,  the average daily for that range is 234 vehicles per day

A total of 1634 vehicles were counted for the week using that range of hours.

Those same trucks track mud and dust onto graves in the Chambers Cemetery. The cemetery long pre-dates the landfill but no one seems to care except the ones who have family there. Funerals have been interrupted, dusted, and literally blocked in by trash trucks. Some drivers even blow the horn when they pass people there with no respect for the living or the dead.
Grave next to 12th street, just outside Advanced Disposal Landfill
June 11, 2014
Now, remember the reason for this letter. They can’t control the problems at 1,000 cubic feet per day. How is it that anyone in authority can think it will get better with an increase of three times the waste on this tiny residential street? Instead of 234 vehicles per day, imagine 700 vehicles per day, or more than 1 per minute rolling right outside your living room window.

Please consider attending the County Commission Meeting on June 25thth at 9 AM in the Commission Chambers at the Tuscaloosa County Courthouse to voice your concerns for this increase that will certainly have a more negative impact than ever.

If we are to ever grow Holt into a thriving community after the Apr. 27th 2011 tornado, it shouldn’t be with Mt. Trashkaloosa as the main attraction.

Mt. Trashkaloosa, Advanced Disposal Landfill. (Flight provided by SouthWings)
Check out the video below to get a feeling of what it's like living next to a public nuisance in many opinions around the Holt Community

No comments:

Post a Comment