ADEM holds landfill meeeting

Published 10:00 pm Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Dr. Joel Hayworth didn’t want to lecture anyone, in fact he wanted to know their opinion of the solid waste management issues in the state of Alabama.

Hayworth heads up Auburn University Solid Waste Management Research Team that is being commissioned by the Alabama Department of Environmental Management. The team is being sent around the state to not only present the issue that faces Alabama, but also gather public feedback.

“During the current three-year moratorium on solid waste landfills, the mandate to ADEM is to review their landfill permitting process and to take a look at the way solid waste is managed as a whole,” said Hayworth. “ADEM thought they would be viewed as having an ax to grind If they conducted the meetings themselves, so that is how we art Auburn got involved.”

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

The state of Alabama population is 4,802,740 and its citizens produce 1.3 percent of the country’s trash. The state has more than enough room for landfills, but some parts of the state have been as Hayworth said “tapped out.”

Hayworth said that the state does not want to do away with landfills, but wants to limit the amount of solid waste that is entered in to.

“We are not against landfills,” said Hayworth. “We know that we need them. Just look at a state like Massachusetts who uses new techniques and still sends over fifty percent of its solid waste to a landfill.”

Two questions were posed to the attendees of Wednesday night’s meeting: how can the current landfill permitting process be improved on and what can the public do to minimize the amount of solid waste disposed in landfills.

The assembled group was broken in to three different tables where the topics were discussed.

Hayworth said that he has seen many different people in the meetings, including members of environmental groups and workers in the landfill business.

The landfill businessmen are worried that the current state-mandated moratorium on landfills will hurt their business, and eventually put them out of business.

Hayworth does not agree with that sentiment, and pointed to a landfill in Decatur, Ala. as a prime example of what can be done.

“The landfill has a recycling facility, waste water treatment facility and a waste-to-energy system right there on the property,” said Hayworth. “The collect the methane, clean it and sell it to the TVA. They actually make a profit and take in less waste.

Hayworth said that since everyone in the state produces some sort of solid waste, that the general public has a “dog in the fight.”

“I am hopefully that what comes out of these meetings will been incorporated some way by the state,” said Hayworth. “I hope that what comes from here will help improve the life of the general public.

The team will collect the findings and hold a conference in Auburn after the research is complete to try to develop a plan for the future.