Proposed Russell Co. landfill could harm Valley's drinking water

By Mackenzie Patterson - email

COLUMBUS, GA (WXTX) -  The possibility of a new construction and demolition landfill is a huge environmental issue that is hanging over both Phenix City and Russell County.  A public hearing is scheduled for 5:00pm February 6th at the Russell County Courthouse so those for and against can voice their opinion.

This map shows you the proposed area for the proposed landfill off County Road 61 or Brickyard Road in Russell County.

The highlighted areas covered in water would be pumped, lined with clay, and then ready for demolition debris to be dumped.  What residents fear is that some of that construction site material will include dangerous chemicals from things like lead-based paints and drywall that releases poisonous hydrogen sulfide gas.

However, the distance from the river and the sandy soil in the area is what has many people worried.

The proposed new landfill will be less than a mile away from the Chattahoochee River which is a major source for our area's drinking water.  Therefore, many critics are concerned for the safety of our water in the future.

Roger Martin, the Executive Director of the Chattahoochee Valley RiverWarden, is fighting against the landfill saying the sandy soil so close to the river is a prime spot for dangerous runoff.

"As the materials decompose in the landfill, those nutrients will follow those pathways into the drinking water of the river and also to the ground water," said Martin.

However, the Vice President for the Concrete Company Hugh Sorrell said regulations from the Alabama Department of Environmental Management will prevent any dumping of harmful material.

"We have to have someone there to sort. We're going to comply with the law," said Sorrell.

This means having workers sort through all the debris coming into the landfill.  However, Martin is also concerned about more than just water.  He said odors from the landfill especially when things like drywall break down could make people sick.

Sorrell said that he is relying on the state to regulate those problems.

"We will do anything that's required to regulate any environmental issues from developing," said Sorrell.

Now, the decision is left up to Russell County Commission.  Commissioners will vote on the controversial issue on Wednesday, February 9th.

Copyright 2011 WXTX. All rights reserved.