Local landscaper shares what it was like dumping at the Moody landfill

Published: Jan. 18, 2023 at 10:08 PM CST
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - EPA officials are now set to come in and start putting out the Moody landfill fire. This comes after Governor Kay Ivy’s declaration of a State of Emergency on January 18 after nearly two months of the fire burning.

State environmental management agents tell WBRC that they are unsure of exactly how long extinguishing is going to take because they still don’t know exactly what is burning.

Jose Betancourt owns J&J’s Landscaping in Leeds and he’s been dumping at the Moody landfill for the last few years. He said owners were very strict with what was being dumped, but he said they could only do so much.

“In those years, they were strictly enforcing only brush,” Betancourt said.

He said he dumped clippings just two weeks before the Moody landfill fire broke out and that nothing was out of the ordinary.

“They have a sign as soon as you enter and it tells you what you can and can’t dump,” he said. “It was leaves, grass clippings, all that. They were really, really strict on nothing else.”

Betancourt said landfill owners were often on site and strict about looking out for trash bags or household items. He said once his team accidentally dumped a trash bag full of leaves and they had to fish the bag back out.

“He is usually up in the excavator or the bulldozer, just watching as you lift up the dump trailer or the dump truck. If he sees something, he will honk at you with the machine, or let you know before you exit. He told us they had been in trouble for stuff like that, so they were really enforcing that.”

Betancourt said he once saw owners turn someone with household items away from the landfill. He said he never noticed anything but brush inside the landfill, but that the site was busy.

“To get some tire or household items in there, it would probably be really easy to sneak it in, because there are so many people dumping at once,” Betancourt said. “I would say two to three people dumping at the same time. Honestly, they can only do so much to make sure the rules are being followed.”

Betancourt said the landfill was one of the cheaper in the area, with a sixty dollar flat rate, no matter how much you dumped. Now, the closet landfill to him is in Gardendale. Gardendale’s landfill accepts debris and household items. The Moody landfill was only meant for brush.

“You could dump 18,000 pounds of tree work for 60 dollars, compared to me going to Mount Olive and dumping for 200,” he said. “Having to travel so far to dump is just outrageous, so it is going to effect us in the long run, which will cause many landscapers and tree companies to start increasing their dump fees.”

The State of Emergency for the landfill can be viewed here.

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