MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WDHN) — The Alabama Department of Environmental Management announced Friday the formation of a group to assess how the response to the Moody landfill fire could have been improved.
ADEM Director Lance LeFleur said that fire in St. Clair County brought to light a number of shortcomings in the response by local and state agencies. He said this new group will study what went wrong and propose solutions.
One state lawmaker who is part of the group said this can’t happen again for his constituents.
“How do we make this process go faster?” Sen. Lance Bell (R-Pell City) said. “Because we cannot put residents through this again.”
Bell will be working alongside Rep. Danny Garrett and leaders from the state EMA, the Forestry Commission, the Association of County Commissions of Alabama and the Alabama League of Municipalities.
LeFleur said the goal is to improve future emergency responses.
“We will take that response and that study of the situation up there and make some recommendations to various leaders around the state,” LeFleur said.
The fire started last November at a disposal site for vegetative waste near Moody. Local authorities could not put it out because the fire was burning underground.
The EPA took over in January after detecting concerning chemical levels in the smoke.
Bell said lawmakers will be looking into any changes in state law to prevent this from happening again.
“We’ve gotta look from a regulatory standpoint in the legislature,” Bell said. “How we look at our laws? Do we need to do something different? Do we need to tweak some laws? Because this is an unregulated landfill that’s operated for many years.”
LeFleur said he can’t confirm when the group will meet or for how long but said it will report results to the public.
“It’ll take however long it takes for us to air all of the issues,” LeFleur said. “We don’t want to put a deadline on it.”
Now four months since this fire started, it is still burning. LeFleur said the EPA is on site every day and that the fire should be out in a few weeks, weather permitting.
ADEM is also planning to address road damage near the fire site caused by heavy trucks transporting materials to extinguish the fire. LeFleur said ADEM will be requesting funding for that repaving project.