by Mark Ekonen, HGD Partner
January 13, 2023
For nearly two decades, the property at 1317 Annie Lee Road in Moody has been operated as a landfill. While it was supposed to operate only as a so-called “green landfill”—a place where tree trimmings, branches, and wood chips could be disposed of—ADEM has consistently noted that for at least the past ten years, the property has allowed its customers to dump “regulated waste,” including construction and demolition waste, household waste, appliances, automotive waste, and scrap tires. None of this material should have been dumped on this property. Now it’s on fire, and the smoke, odors, and soot from the fire are threatening the health and property of everyone who lives near it.
This fire has been constantly burning for over forty-five days, with no end in sight. Nearly everyone in St. Clair and Jefferson Counties is aware of it, but none have been as affected by it as much as the residents of Moody, Trussville, Leeds, Margaret, and Argo, as well as the communities surrounding this landfill. As a resident of Trussville, I know firsthand how this fire has interrupted and affected the lives of everyone in this area. When the smoke is blowing your way, you keep your kids and your pets inside. Unfortunately, when the smoke and the odors are especially strong, even staying inside doesn’t offer relief. Some days the smoke and the foul odor are in your house when you go to bed and still there to greet you when you wake up the next morning. Of course, this is only true for the people who are fortunate enough to still be able to live in their homes.
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Everyone I’ve talked to has questions. How could this happen? Why was this dump allowed to stay open despite all of the inspection reports from ADEM identifying regulated material being dumped there? Who is responsible for this? When we smell the smoke, what are we breathing? How are we going to get this smoke smell out of our home?
These are all good questions, and the people asking them deserve answers. This is why we filed a lawsuit against the owner of the property as well as the people and company that operated the dump, so we can start the process of getting answers to as many of those questions as we can through the court system. We cannot do anything to put the fire out and stop the smoke and the odors from infesting the homes of the many people who live around the dump. But we will do everything we can to get answers to those questions and, if possible, find a way to help everyone affected by this disaster to recover once it’s passed.
If you have any questions about the fire, our lawsuit, or how you may be impacted by either of those, please do not hesitate to contact me.
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