Tuesday, April 03, 2018

Alabama towns protest backup of rail cars full of New York City sewage sludge headed for local landfill

Rural residents in Northern Alabama put their foot down about shipments of sewage solids from New York City, resulting in a legal dispute that has left 200 shipping containers full of the smelly stuff rotting in train cars, stalled for six weeks near Parrish, Ala., on their way to a nearby landfill.

Locals have been complaining about the stink and flies for the past year and a half that New York has been shipping the waste to Big Sky Landfill in Adamsville, 25 miles away from Parrish. At a recent public hearing on a permit renewal for Big Sky, Charlies Nix, mayor of nearby West Jefferson, said the train cars frequently leak sticky sewage sludge on his town's roads. "I never dreamed someone could flush a commode in New York, and it would run out in my backyard," he said.

"This is a little-seen part of daily life in America. Big cities produce more waste than they can dispose of," Valerie Bauerlein and Kate King report for the Wall Street Journal. "All across the country, pipes, trucks and trains carry waste elsewhere to be incinerated, dumped or used as fertilizer. Over the past decade, private landfills in the rural South have agreed to take sludge from out of state. But communities near landfills like Big Sky are increasingly pushing back, saying the tax revenue and jobs don’t outweigh the negative effects."

The Parrish Town Council voted Feb. 28 to deny Big Sky a local business license but "did grant temporary approval for the company to remove the more than 250 metal containers," Elaine Jones of the Jasper Daily Mountain Eagle reported. Mayor Heather Hall said, “When the temperatures reached 80 degrees . . . the smell became unbearable.”A Big Sky spokesman blamed the backlog of cars on delays by Norfolk Southern Railway and said “You will never again see this number of rail cars on this site.”

The mayors of Parrish and West Jefferson met with Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey this week, asking her help in stopping the flow of New York waste to their area. State regulators are expected to decide soon whether to renew Big Sky's permit, following public hearings, soliciting written comments, and reviewing the company's regulatory records.

No comments: