St. Clair Co. Commission: Waiting for Gov. Ivey to declare state of emergency for landfill fire before taking next steps

St. Clair Co. officials waiting on response from Gov. Ivey on landfill fire
Published: Jan. 16, 2023 at 10:06 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 16, 2023 at 10:17 PM CST
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ST. CLAIR CO., Ala. (WBRC) - St. Clair County officials say they are waiting on Alabama Governor Kay Ivey to give them the authority to pay a private company to start putting out the Moody landfill fire.

County Commission Chairman Stan Bateman said the county’s engineer has had his top companies chosen since last week, but he says the county can’t officially hire the company until Governor Ivey declares the landfill fire a state of emergency, so they’ve sent a letter to her desk.

“Stop the smoke and we stop the suffering,” Bateman said. “We still couldn’t get anything in writing that we had the authorization to spend any county money on private property. That has been pretty much the hold up.”

Bateman said they need authority from the state before they can spend taxpayer dollars on private property. They’ve sent their top contractor choices to Governor Ivey, but they can’t hire one until she declares a state of emergency.

“We don’t have any authority, unless the state has told us to do something or given us orders to do something,” he said. “or given us permission, and this case, we have neither.”

Bateman said the county, along with other affected cities, sent the letter last week and are just waiting to hear back.

“I’m very frustrated,” he said. “We would have put the fire out already. It’s not rocket science to hire a contractor to put the fire out.”

Bateman said if declared an emergency, they’ll get crews working on the fire within three days.

“They move in machinery, some sort of misting system that blows mist into the smoke,” he said. “The smoke goes away when the mist hits it. It just drops and stops being light enough to be carried by a breeze.”

WBRC reached out to Governor Ivey’s office for a comment, but did not hear back as of 10 p.m., January 16, 2023.

Bateman said if Gov. Ivey declares the fire an emergency, the President can then also declare a state of emergency if needed. That will release FEMA funds to help the county pay.

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