The debate continues over Phenix City landfill

By MacKenzie Patterson - email

PHENIX CITY, AL (WXTX) -  The heated debate over a landfill in Phenix City continues, but this would not be the first construction and demolition landfill in this area.

Bill Reaves is the co-owner of Pine Hollow Landfill already in Phenix City.  It is about four miles from the Chattahoochee River.  Critics of the proposed landfill described Reaves' landfill as a model for how a construction and demolition land should work.

News Leader Nine went to the Pine Hollow Landfill to discuss with Reaves what the Alabama Department of Environment Management's regulations are for these types of landfills.

Hugh Sorrell, the Vice President for The Concrete Company, said that the proposed landfill would follow all of these regulations in order to meet Alabama standards.

However, Reaves said he is still concerned about environmental damage.  He said small amounts of harmful materials such as arsenic, mercury, and lead will be dumped into a construction and demolition landfill.

The proposed site is less than a mile away from the river.  Reaves said that short distance along with the sandy soil in the area makes him worried about the proposed landfill's possible runoff.

He said it's not if, but when will the harmful chemicals make their way to the Chattahoochee River

"Sandy, porous soil.  One day it will get to the Chattahoochee River.  They can't contain it," explained Reaves.

The Pine Hollow Landfill stands on 15ft of clay with the entire landfill surrounded by a ditch.  This prevents any liquid from leaking out of the landfill.  The proposed landfill is currently covered in water.

The idea is to drain that water, line it with clay, and then workers could dump demolition debris.  However, Reaves said the small amount of clay would eventually crack under pressure.

Sorrell said that Alabama regulations will not allow for dangerous materials, like lead based paints, to be dumped.  He said if Alabama requires it then workers would sort through the material coming into the landfill.

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

Reaves said avoiding the dangerous material is not an option.  He explained old homes nearby were built using things like arsenic treated lumber, lead based paints, and mercury inside thermostats.  When those houses are demolished, the material then gets dumped into the landfill.

"Demolition is the name of the landfill.  Its waste generate from demolition," said Reaves.

Sorrell said his company will do anything necessary to prevent any form of environmental damage.

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

Russell County Commissioners could vote on the landfill Wednesday, February 9th.

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