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Archived Story

Landfill issue remains in limbo

Published 11:00pm Friday, April 19, 2013

The email asked an ominous question: “Do you want more hazardous waste in Alabama?”

Going on, the pitch from Conservation Alabama’s action network urged citizens to take action and speak up next week to oppose HB 181, which comes up for consideration Tuesday in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

The bill would cut in half the fees per ton for the disposal of hazardous waste materials in the state. By lowering those fees, the agency warns, Alabama becomes “more attractive to hazardous waste haulers across the country and around the world while endangering the people and the places you love.”

So our only course of action is to speak up at the committee hearing (12:30 p.m. Tuesday, Room 325 of the State House) in opposition.

Perhaps it is.

But when it comes to issues of tipping fees, landfills and waste, my concerns are a little less generous and a little more narrowly focused on issues close to home: to the point, the Brundidge landfill.

Since the Coffee County Commission voted last October to spend up to $6 million to purchase the landfill from bankrupt owner TransLoad America Inc., something has smelled, well, just a little bit fishy.

Brundidge officials cried foul – loudly and in court, but with little avail.

They’ve tried to fight the sale through the bankruptcy court, but as of last week it appeared that the mysteriously named Brundidge Acquisitions LLC would be given the green light to purchase the landfill.

Brundidge officials also tried to block the sale through the Alabama Department of Environmental Management, trying to stall the transfer of the legal license that allows the landfill to operate to the Coffee County-backed entity.

That effort, as well, seems to have fallen short.

Now, Brundidge officials are seeking judicial relief based on state law which they believe precludes government entities from using public funds to purchase land outside their county lines for the use of economic development.

And with Coffee County officials – or Brundidge Acquisitions LLC – offering little to no explanation of their plans for the landfill, speculation has run wild.

The landfill contributed some $200,000 a year into the city’s general fund. If it remains closed, that’s a big blow to the city budget and likely will result in a reduction of services and/or an increase in taxes and utility costs passed on to residents. And officials have hinted the impact likely would affect surrounding communities – such as Troy – and other local businesses and industries, who have long used the Brundidge landfill but will be forced to continue hauling garbage even further with the landfill shutdown.

And while Conservation Alabama may have a valid concern in the issues of hazardous waste tipping fees, folks in Brundidge and Pike County have a much more pressing concern in trying to figure out what future, if any, lies ahead for their landfill.

Stacy G. Graning is publisher of The Messenger. Email her at stacy.graning@troymessenger.com.

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