Mobile rejects Perry’s ash water

Published 1:09 am Saturday, February 6, 2010

UNIONTOWN — Just a day after some residents here and in Marion threatened a lawsuit against the operators of a Perry County landfill for taking toxic ash waste from Tennessee, operators of the landfill received more bad news.

A Mobile wastewater treatment facility won’t take the leachate — the liquid that drains from a landfill.

Liquid Environmental Solutions, Friday stopped accepting shipments of runoff wastewater from an Alabama landfill that is receiving the coal ash laced with arsenic, mercury and some other heavy metals.

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The Dallas-based company’s senior vice president, Dana King, said in a statement that the shipments have been stopped due to local concerns even though the company has “properly accepted, tested and treated the non-hazardous Perry County landfill wastewater.”

King said the company recently started accepting shipments of the wastewater and were treating it but “some people are up in arms.”

King added that “in support of our commitment to work with community leaders, we have decided we will no longer be accepting this wastewater.” After being treated by the company, the wastewater then was routed through the Mobile Area Water and Sewer System and discharged into Mobile Bay.

The president of landfill co-owner Phill-Con Services, Eddie Dorsett, did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

About 5.4 million cubic yards of coal ash laced with arsenic and potentially toxic substances spilled out of a holding pond at the TVA plant on Dec. 22, 2008. Ash that spilled into Emory River is being dredged and shipped by railroad to the Alabama landfill.

TVA has been shipping the coal ash to the Arrowhead Landfill in Perry County, Ala., using up to 110 rail cars daily.

It was not immediately known if the decision might affect the pace of removing the spilled coal ash.

The landfill earlier was sending the landfill runoff water to the Marion, Ala., wastewater treatment plant, where it was discharged into a creek. The Environmental Protection Agency, acting on concerns of residents in that community, suggested that the leachate be taken elsewhere.

The other landfill co-owner, disaster recovery specialist Phillips & Jordan of Knoxville, has a $95 million contract with TVA to dispose of the ash. Telephone calls to Phillips & Jordan late Friday were not answered.

TVA spokeswoman Barbara Martocci said the decision by Liquid Environmental Solutions to stop accepting the wastewater is “something that will have to be worked out between Phillips & Jordan and that company.”

“What we’ll do is work with Phillips & Jordan according to the contract we have in place,” she said.

Mobile wastewater system spokeswoman Barbara Shaw said Thursday that Liquid Environmental Solutions specializes in removing industrial waste and has been a system customer for about 10 years.