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Uniontown residents plan protest in Montgomery this week


Citizens of Uniontown will be in Montgomery today, Thursday, Dec. 15, at 11:00 a.m. to protest what they say is an insufficient response by Alabama’s Department of Environmental Management regarding violations at Arrowhead Landfill.

They are encouraging any interested parties, especially residents of Uniontown and other nearby Black Belt communities, to join them there in asking the state to get tough on what they say are serious and ongoing environmental violations at the facility.

In response to citizen complaints in February and March of 2022, ADEM made several on-site inspections at Arrowhead and noted the existence of continuing permit violations. On March 23, ADEM took the unprecedented step of issuing a Notice of Violation to Arrowhead. However, Uniontown environmental activists say, the recent proposed enforcement action by ADEM against Arrowhead’s owners for multiple violations does not go far enough.

The Proposed Consent Order (enforcement action) negotiated between ADEM and Arrowhead and currently in its public notice period, assesses a $30,600 civil penalty against the owners of the landfill for violations of numerous environmental regulations.


“It would be laughable if the circumstances were not so serious in nature. The extent of the violations cited in the notice seems purposely understated to minimize the adverse effects on the local community and the environmental damage that has resulted from the permit violations that have occurred over the past two years,” said Ellis Long, one of the Uniontown citizens planning to protest on Thursday.

“Major violations occurred in March of 2021 (still within the statute of limitations) that were not even included in the Proposed Consent Order. Specifically, shockingly high leachate levels caused by a failed sump pump were allowed to accumulate and weigh on the landfill liner, which may have damaged the landfill liner and rendered it unable to fulfill its purpose of protecting the groundwater from contamination by leachate. Some landfill neighbors have water wells that draw water from the same groundwater,” said Long.

ADEM is offering Arrowhead the option to apply a portion of that $30,600 penalty toward, the paving of a portion of the Tayloe Road access to Arrowhead’s entrance. The consent order characterizes this as a benefit to the community.

Long said the work would be more of a benefit to Arrowhead and the trucking companies that ship waste there.

The landfill accepts waste via railcar, as well, and averages about 2,200 tons of waste per day, according to their own estimates. The facility’s permit from ADEM allows them to accept up to 15,000 tons of waste per day.

ADEM and the Perry County Commission both receive $1.00 per ton for waste processed at Arrowhead. In 2021, each entity received over $819,000 from Arrowhead, and in the first three quarters of 2022, each has received $620,000.

There have been two deaths at the facility in recent years, including one this year. Long said these accidents were avoidable, and were a consequence of a “very poor safety culture” at the facility.

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