Public forum is public’s opportunity

Published 9:15 pm Friday, March 19, 2010

Demopolis mayor Mike Grayson will hold a town hall meeting April 8 where he will touch on topics facing the town and solicit questions from citizens.

Alabama’s senior U.S. Senator Richard Shelby has made similar-styled meetings a regular staple of his schedule, including one in Demopolis last month.

Expected to be one of the hottest topics of discussion will be a question and answer session regarding the city’s acceptance of coal ash leachate from the Perry County landfill.

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I’ve written a handful of articles about what the City of Demopolis is facing through pending litigation from Florida attorney David Ludder.

I’m also fully aware of what leachate is. I know the cited dangers and I know how most people feel about it. You have a right to be concerned for yourselves, your families and your environment.

However, what I also know is that these shipments are tested before they are processed in Demopolis.

If they pass regulatory standards mandated by the state and federal government, they enter the processing system. In many cases that I’ve been able to find, the majority of these shipments test several times lower than the maximum tolerance.

If the shipment fails, it’s pumped back onto a truck and it never touches the ground in Demopolis. To date, no shipment has failed testing.

Leachate is a hot button issue. I understand that. It’s also an issue where the people who are adamantly against it will not hear any argument from the other side.

Currently, Demopolis is testing and processing coal ash leachate for Perry County.

However, a Florida-based attorney has notified the city of his intent to sue the Water and Sewer Board over an expiring permit, citing the Board’s failure to reapply for the permit within a required timeframe.

Many people think this pending litigation is the result of Demopolis accepting leachate or even their improper processing of it. For the most part, it’s not.

At the root of the litigation is a permit that wasn’t even expired, just late in being re-applied for. That probably doesn’t make many people feel any safer, but it’s just the tip of the iceberg with regards to everything that’s tied up in the phrase “Demopolis leachate.”

Those of you who are concerned over the city’s accepting this coal ash run-off, I hope you will make plans to attend this open forum. You may or may not change your mind about anything but you may learn a little something you otherwise did not know.

It would be helpful that you understand this process, how it works and how it is currently working within your community.

Jason Cannon is publisher of the Demopolis Times.