Sylacauga residents disturbed about lingering stench

SYLACAUGA, AL (WBRC) - Sylacaugans are complaining about a smell they say stems from a waste treatment plant just outside the city's limit.

Residents say they've been overwhelmed by a smell they say is coming from the Reef Environmental plant since the facility opened in 2007. And they showed tonight asking the city council to do more to try and solve the problem.
Those Sylacauga homeowners say this smell may be more than just a nuisance, they're concerned about what it may be doing to their health. So they made it clear tonight they're not happy with the city or county's response so far.
"Everybody in Sylacauga is affected by this and everybody in Sylacauga would like to see this stopped,": said Cara Curtis, one of the concerned neighbors. "It has destroyed the quality of life in Sylacauga."

The Alabama Department of Environmental Management levied a $72,000 fine against Reef Environmental for not having an air scrubbing system properly installed and maintained at the wastewater treatment plant.

ADEM told FOX6 News Tuesday that Reef Environmental has until March to correct the problem.

But these homeowners say that's not enough, and Tuesday asked Sylacauga's city council and mayor to do more. But Sylacauga's mayor says since the plant isn't within city limits, there's not much he can do.

"I've been like everyone else, somewhat frustrated by it, and I've told them that," said Sylacauga Mayor Sam Wright. "But I have to guard my words and so right now we just have to let the legal action take course and just work through this."

The city has filed a nuisance injunction against reef asking for relief, but that motion won't be in court until March. These homeowners say that's not soon enough.

"This is what our future is," said Vicki Crow, another concerned neighbor. "And we cannot bank on what's gonna happen in this town when this child and all the other children are being subjected to this smell we have to deal with."

FOX6 made multiple attempts to contact Reef Environmental for a response to our story but were unable to reach them for comment.

Wright says he talks to Reef officials almost daily to ask for help and says the plant is supposed to be installing a new tarp this week at the facility that may help contain the smell.

Homeowners at tonight's meeting say the city's legal action isn't working fast enough and they're ready to take matters into their own hands, though they weren't specific about what that means.