‘The smell is horrible’: Trussville neighbors concerned about growing Birmingham landfill

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October 02 2021 06:00 pm

TRUSSVILLE, Ala. (WIAT) — Neighbors in Trussville say the smell from a landfill that borders their homes and a local elementary school is getting worse.

“The smell is horrible. Especially in the middle of summer when it’s 95 degrees,” said Trussville resident Robert Langford.

He contacted CBS 42 about his concerns over the Eastern Area Landfill in Birmingham. Langford says over the years, the mounds of trash are growing higher and the odor is becoming more unbearable.

“They’re expanding the landfill and it’s not good for our kids that live here or our property,” he told CBS 42.

Public documents from the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) show the agency permitted the landfill to increase some of the slopes in one section of the landfill to 33.3 percent back in May.

According to ADEM, the City of Birmingham wants to add another disposal cell, which is currently under review by the department.

Trussville Mayor Buddy Choat explained since the landfill isn’t in his city, he doesn’t always get briefed on changes like that ahead of time.

“When we asked about that we were told that they just applied for it and they were granted this variance and that seemed a little too easy,” said Choat.

In the past few months, there have been multiple filed complaints to ADEM from residents about the smell and noise in their neighborhood and at the Magnolia Elementary School.

According to the reports, ADEM found no unusual odors during inspections that followed.

So what’s the solution? Mayor Choat explained that having better communication with the City of Birmingham moving forward may help so that he can keep concerned Trussville neighbors informed.

“A lot of the time it’s too late, but if we could have the opportunity to be aware of some of these things that are impacting us,” said Choat.

A spokesperson for the City of Birmingham said in a statement:

“According to the City’s Department of Public Works, the Eastern Area Landfill has been at its current location since 1970 and will serve the citizens of Birmingham for decades to come.  Any information about the landfill closing now or in the future is highly inaccurate.  The city recently invested in a new cell within the landfill property, and that cell went through the ADEM permitting, approval process  and a public comment period.

The permit modifications to the existing cell were deemed minor, according to ADEM, and that no public comment/notice is required on minor modifications. The city cannot speak to what a developer may have told residents about the landfill. Again, the landfill will be operational for decades to come. 

Having trucks run seven days a week is not typical operations at the landfill, but it does occur occasionally during the summer months.”

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