Investigations expected in Moody landfill fire cause, items dumped in landfill

Published: Jan. 10, 2023 at 5:40 PM CST
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MOODY, Ala. (WBRC) - As the landfill fire in St. Clair County continues to burn, leaders expect to see an arson investigation to determine if anyone started the fire and if unauthorized items were being dumped at the landfill.

“I think it’s logical to assume that when there is a fire it is a potential arson,” says James Hill, St. Clair County Attorney. “I anticipate there will be an investigation as it relates to potential arson. I also anticipate the Alabama Department of Environmental Management will investigate whether or not regulated materials had been placed into a site that doesn’t have a permit for regulated materials.”

The Moody Fire Department, the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Office and the Alabama Fire Marshal’s office will work together to determine the cause of the fire.

Along with this investigation, the St. Clair County Commission met Tuesday morning to discuss options to extinguish the fire. They’re reviewing proposals but they expect the final choice to be made at the state or federal level.

“Our engineer we got three companies relatively the same,” Stan Batemon, St. Clair County Commission Chairman. “We know they’ve done it safely in other places but this is now taking on a little different level so I think as soon as that is done I can’t imagine that not being public information. Who the contractor is. And I would think what methods are you using.”

St. Clair County Engineer Dan Dahlke says the landfill landscape is causing some issues.

“The terrain we have here and the cave-ins still occurring out there,” says Dahlke. “That’s a little on the unusual side. I think this is going to be on the legal side of it. I hope that we have something to go as soon as they can get the legal side of who’s going to say yes this is the one.”

The county commission says the process is taking longer than they expected but they’d like to weigh all of their options to make sure it’s the right decision.

“We don’t know for sure what’s in the air you know there could be certain things that a contractor could come out there and do that would be more harmful if certain things are in the air,” says Dahlke. “We want to try to minimize any more pollution in the air. The worst thing I can see happening is we rush through and recommend something and we cause a bigger problem.”

Last week the Environmental Protection Agency placed advanced air monitors at the landfill to test the air quality. The county commission expects the process to take about a week to determine if there are any chemicals or hazardous waste present.

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