By Amalia Kortright, For the Tribune
TRUSSVILLE — The Alabama Dept. of Environmental Management issued a consent decree about the Eastern Area Landfill to the City of Birmingham on April 20, nearly three years after a complaint was filed by the Magnolia Place Homeowners’ Association. The Homeowner’s Association claims that excess storm water and sedimentation has flowed from the active face of the landfill to the pond in Magnolia Place.
ADEM issued a Notice of Violation to the City of Birmingham in November 2013 for failure to monitor upstream and downstream water movement, failure to submit Discharge Monitoring Reports and discharging excessive pollutants.
The City of Birmingham responded, stating that the pollutants released were not enough to substantially affect the water in the pond at Magnolia Place. They also resolved to install a sit fence in order to better control water leaving the maintenance area of the landfill.
The Eastern Area Landfill submitted periodic reports to ADEM from 2013 to 2015 that had indicated that the landfill had discharged pollutants into state waters west of the Magnolia Place subdivision.
An inspection done in March 2015 revealed that an access road to a groundwater monitoring well had been installed, and that some erosion and sedimentation had taken place as the result. Facility personnel also told the inspector that a road had been cut to access a monitoring well, which caused some sedimentation and erosion.
Another investigation in August revealed that an earthen berm had been constructed in order to keep storm water from running into the subdivision’s pond. However, ADEM also found evidence of sediment in the pond. Erosion was also noted on a homeowner’s property.
ADEM concluded that all violations from the Eastern Area Landfill were easily avoidable. The landfill has had a history of violations prior to the two-year investigation. They have also concluded that any discharge from the landfill has not caused harm to public health or the environment.
While the Eastern Area Landfill violated several stipulations of their National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit, ADEM’s investigation found no evidence that gravel from the landfill ever made it into the Magnolia Place pond. Instead, storm water from the landfill had been successfully discharged through an unnamed tributary into the nearby Stinking Creek.
Investigators also cited construction for a new Trussville elementary school had occurred nearby during the investigation period, as well as water from residential downspouts, as potential causes for sedimentation in the pond.
Birmingham is being fined $33,000 as a civil penalty. They will also have to submit an Engineering report, which outlines potential causes of each violation and how to ensure that all stipulations are observed in the future. The Engineering Report will also include a Compliance Plan, which cites a schedule of the dates when each corrective action is taken.
According to Magnolia Place Homeowners’ Association President Dan Bayse, the Eastern Area Landfill is still the source of sedimentation in the pond, and repairing the damage caused by the pollutants will cost $77,000.
“We’re only asking that Birmingham take responsibility and pay what it will cost for them to take their dirt back,” said Bayse. “The landfill is the only place that 100 [to] 150 dump truck loads of silt could have come from.”