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Cherokee residents want landfill owners to continue to make progress on problem

Published: Oct. 21, 2021 at 4:35 PM CDT
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CHEROKEE, Ala. (WAFF) - Community members in Cherokee are concerned over issues with a landfill near their homes.

”If we don’t get involved with the wrong then we become part of the wrong,” said one Cherokee resident.

After expressing those concerns to the Alabama Department of Environmental Management, the agency took action. ADEM issued an administrative order in September to the landfill owners to fix the problems with their water drainage collection system.

About a month later, employees from ADEM inspected the landfill and noted strong smells were coming from some of those same areas.

The order states there were approximately 209,000 gallons of possibly contaminated water in the two containment systems.

According to the order, “facility personnel” indicated that the last time it was disposed of was July 7. There was also an additional time between March and May that leachate was not disposed of.

Leachate is formed when rainwater passes through waste in a landfill. When the water comes in contact with buried wastes, it leaches or draws out the various chemicals and other substances from those wastes. It collects in the bottom of the landfill cell.

The Colbert County Solid Waste Disposal Authority owns the permit from ADEM and the land but the landfill is operated and managed by another company.

“It’s a merger of a public and private entities and that is usually good connection because you get the efficiency of the private sector with the overall good of the community with the private sector,” said Chairperson of the authority, Kerry Underwood.

Underwood said that the issues stated in the administrative order have been resolved.

“It was simply a management issue that ADEM heard about and went and corrected so for us as long as it’s being hauled out and taken care of we’re good,” said Underwood.

That’s what community members want too.

Since the order stated that leachate was not disposed of properly, they hope now they will continue to do so.

“I hope they take that responsibility serious, but since we’re down here in Barton away from the city, I’m concerned that them people think why should I care?”

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