DOTHAN, Ala. (WDHN) — Dothan’s Mayor, Mark Saliba speaks out after a court ruling forced the entire Dothan landfill to shut down on Friday.
A court ruling reversed a permit from the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) that the city of Dothan needs in order to operate its dump.
As a result of that ruling, the city has started shipping its garbage out of state to Florida.
“What they have asked us to do is to stop putting garbage in the landfill for the moment,” Mayor Saliba said. “We are going back to the arrangement that we had with Waste Management down in Florida.”
A letter that was sent to the city of Dothan regarding the expansion from ADEM states, due to the circuit court vacating its previous order and reversing the order of the agency approving the city of Dothan’s permit. The city may not dispose of solid waste until a new permit is obtained.
Ultimately, resulting in the closure of the city’s landfill which the mayor tells WDHN will cost taxpayers in the long run.
“For us to not be able to use our landfill causes us to spend a lot more money of the taxpayer money in order to send the refuse to a transfer station that is then taken to Waste Management down in Florida,” Saliba said.
A million dollars, or more, is what could be spent to ship that trash to Florida. Saliba said this will only be temporary. According to the mayor, the city is applying for a temporary permit in order to re-open the landfill while they work to get another permit approved by ADEM which could take up to a year.
“What we are doing is the best way for us to dispose of garbage and refuse for the citizens of Dothan,” Saliba said.
It was almost a decade ago when Dothan started running out of space at the city landfill and wanted to expand. That’s also when the back and forth between the city and landowners started.
Landowners who live nearby the dump believe the waste has brought major health and environmental problems, so they’ve been fighting against the expansion.
However, Saliba says the city’s landfill is safe.
“The city of Dothan has continued to manage the landfill as ADEM has required us, who answers to the EPA (the United States Environmental Protection Agency),” Saliba said. “We built the landfill according to regulations, and restrictions, it’s safe.”
In March, the Alabama Supreme Court refused to hear the case regarding the city’s dump expansion. This means the previous decision by the Court of Civil Appeals in October of last year was upheld.
The decision was that commissioners of ADEM shouldn’t have granted Dothan a permit allowing its landfill to expand.
Saliba said the ruling has nothing to do with the way the dump is run or operated on a day-to-day basis but rather the technicalities in the permit process between ADEM and the courts.
“We feel like that is the best option for the city of Dothan, all of its taxpayers and citizens,” Saliba said. “We will continue to do so until ADEM says we don’t have that option anymore.”