Questionable debris burning stopped in Opp

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 8, 2014

The burning of materials at a cotton mill in Opp has been stopped for good, city inspector Wanda Summers said.

The smoke and smell originating from the burn piles had become a matter of contention among city residents and officials over the past few weeks, with many questioning if the materials being disposed of could be hazardous.

Summers told members of the Opp City Council Monday that all necessary steps, including obtaining permits to burn inside the city limits, had been taken by the site’s new owners, B&B Recycling; however, concerns over the possible presence of asbestos in materials being burned remained.

Summers said Friday she has spoken with officials at B&B and expects to obtain copies of asbestos abatement records from the Oklahoma-based company as early as next week. Summers said the burning was brought to a permanent halt by city officials and will not be resumed, regardless of any documentation received from the company.

“They are not going to burn anymore at all, period,” Summers said. “They had most of (the disposals) done. They have a little more to clean up, but they are going to haul it off and dispose of it another way.”

City officials, including District 2 Councilman T.D. Morgan, said experts with the Environmental Protections Agency and the Alabama Department of Environmental Management had been notified of the situation.

At Monday’s meeting, Councilman Bobby Ray Owens, who represents District 1 where the mill is located, said he believed asbestos to be present at the location, citing his experience as a former employee at the mill.