Moody Landfill Fire: Gov. Ivey issues State of Emergency enabling ADEM to ask EPA to extinguish it

Moody Fire
Moody Landfill Fire (Ron Burkett)

Governor Kay Ivey has issued a state of emergency enabling state and local officials to ask the Environmental Protection Agency for help extinguishing the Moody Landfill Fire.

Fire Reported November 25th

The fire, which was first reported on November 25th, continues to smolder and burn, releasing clouds of smoke into surrounding communities.

As a result of the declaration by the Governor, the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM), with  support of St. Clair County, has asked the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to lead the effort to put out the underground fire at the privately operated waste disposal site near Moody. 

Governor Ivey’s Statement

In a statement following her State of Emergency declaration, the Governor welcomed federal assistance to put out the fire.

“By authorizing the EPA to respond to this fire, we are ensuring it will be addressed in the fastest and safest way possible. It is imperative that this situation be solved and solved right for the sake of the folks in Moody and all people affected by this fire. I am pleased at this next step, and to ensure we are doing everything possible from the state level, I am also issuing a limited state of emergency for St. Clair County to give local officials another layer of support as they deal with this fire.” 

ADEM and County Request Help

Concerning ADEM’s ability to put out the fire, ADEM Director Lance LeFleur made the following statement in a news release that was issued after the declaration.

“Neither ADEM nor the county has the experience or expertise to put out a fire of this nature. The EPA utilizes contractors with experience and knowledge to do this type of work. ADEM and state and local officials have concluded the most effective and safe way to extinguish the fire is for the EPA to lead the effort, and we have entered into an arrangement with the EPA to make that happen.”

Air Monitors and Water Testing

Since the fire began nearly two months ago, two environmental groups, GASP and Cahaba Riverkeeper, set up air monitors and tested streams after residents from nearby communities experienced days and days of smoke permeating in their community.  

According to ADEM, via their request, EPA has also performed air testing at and near the site. In addition, ADEM is also testing water in nearby streams to determine possible impacts from runoff from the fire site.

By early January, the St. Clair County Commission declared a State of Emergency citing potential health concerns caused by the persistent smoke coming off the landfill property.

Before school started back up in Trussville, Mayor Buddy Choat and the Trussville School System also teamed up with the Jefferson County Department of Health to install air monitors at four schools in January.

Relief for Thousands – Better Communication

Moody Landfill Fire (Ron Burkett)

“Today’s declaration of a state of emergency related to the unauthorized dump fire in Moody is long overdue,” said David Butler with the Cahaba Riverkeeper. 

“We are hopeful this declaration will expedite relief for the thousands of people suffering from eight weeks of smoke exposure.  We are relieved that the EPA will lead the effort to extinguish the fire.   We are hopeful this action leads to greater transparency from involved agencies and better communication with concerned stakeholders.”

Pat Byington
Pat Byington

Longtime conservationist. Former Executive Director at the Alabama Environmental Council and Wild South. Publisher of the Bama Environmental News for more than 18 years. Career highlights include playing an active role in the creation of Alabama's Forever Wild program, Little River Canyon National Preserve, Dugger Mountain Wilderness, preservation of special places throughout the East through the Wilderness Society and the strengthening (making more stringent) the state of Alabama's cancer risk and mercury standards.

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