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Sides differ on leachate matter

Florida environmental attorney David A. Ludder, Attorney for Conservation Alabama Foundation, recently notified the Demopolis Water Works and Sewer Board of his intent to sue unless it complies with state water discharge regulations.

Officials with the Demopolis Water Board say it has tried to comply with those regulations, saying that their only violation lies in the renewal date of the city’s permit.

“You’re supposed to apply for renewal 180 days before the permit expires,” said a water board member who asked to remain anonymous due to pending litigation, “and we didn’t. But that’s because – through some communication through ADEM – we thought we had an extension. So, we reapplied in August before the permit expired in October.”

Mayor Mike Grayson said the city had been granted Consent Order to continue accepting the leachate through the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) prior to the permit’s 180 day expiration window.

This is familiar territory for the city water board. Ludder sued Demopolis in 2003 for similar offenses and has notified Arrowhead Landfill in Uniontown of his intent to sue them as well.

Leachate is a liquid-based sludge that accumulates in landfills and is shipped suspended in water, which is meant to prevent the particulate coal-ash from scattering during its trip to Perry County.

The Demopolis Water Works and Sewer Board has been accepting and processing the leachate since mid-2009. Grayson said the leachate is placed in a holding tank at the treatment facility and is tested before processing. If the toxin levels are too high, then the leachate is returned to the original landfill.

“This stuff undergoes regular and rigorous testing from Tuscaloosa Testing Labratories (TTL) to make sure it’s safe and they’ve not found any problems with it. If they find a problem, we send it right back where it came from,” the source said, “and ADEM gets a copy of that report and is well aware of this process.”

The city continues to work with ADEM to renew the required permits.