Florala escapes ADEM fines

Published 12:02 am Friday, April 12, 2013

Florala narrowly missed paying out tens of thousands of dollars in Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) fines for illegal dumping, utility board members said Thursday.

The Merrill Road property was used as a dumping ground for trash and yard and construction debris – as well as employees’ personal garbage, board member Brian Presley said. This was one of the items cited in an audit performed after the board fired its longtime manager following allegations of theft.

Board member and Florala Mayor Robert Williamson said it was his belief that dumping at the site was “something that had always been done.”

“I think the employees didn’t know it wasn’t a dump,” he said. “And I can understand that, but what I don’t understand is the mindset of dumping on private property. That’s like me having a large hole in my backyard and someone throwing their garbage on there because there’s a hole there. It’s not right.

“We were lucky,” he said. “ADEM approved our site remediation plan, so work can begin on cleaning things up.

“There are no fines because we, in advance of them finding the issue, cited the problem, notified them and immediately hired a company to remediate the problem,” he said.

At its March meeting, the board approved a $12,000 contract with CDG Engineers to oversee the clean up process; however, utility board workers will provide the labor and equipment.

Williams estimates the total clean-up cost between $25,000 and $30,000.

“We’re going to have to use our man hours and equipment to get it done, and by the time we haul the debris away, we’re looking at a lot,” he said.

“It’s going to cost us substantially as a result,” he said.

Presley agreed, saying, “I’m very disappointed in this behavior. I personally think (employees) should get out there and clean it up for free.”