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Saturday, June 3, 2023

Decatur/Morgan County landfill begins process of capping closed cells

MORGAN COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) — The Decatur/Morgan County landfill has a project underway to limit the amount of industrial toxins that flow into to the county’s groundwater and Tennessee River.

The project would cap an estimated 90 acres of landfill mounds known as cells, with the aim of reducing PFAS chemical levels.

The landfill is looking to reduce the amount of harmful chemicals that residents may be exposed to through water.

Decatur/Morgan County landfill director Wanda Tyler says resident safety is one of the largest goals of the project.

“This project is the capping closure of cells 2 through 11, which will help protect human health and also the environment,” Tyler told News 19.

PFAS chemicals are known as forever chemicals since they break down very slowly.

The chemicals, made by 3M in Decatur for decades, can affect wastewater treatment plants through discharge into the Tennessee River. The chemicals can also be carried back to the landfill in contaminated sludge.

With this project, the idea is that if the landfill cells are sealed correctly, harmful material won’t infiltrate and make contact with groundwater.

“This project going to install a geo-synthetic liner which will significantly reduce the amount of PFAs that will enter into the groundwater,” Tyler said.

Tyler compared the process to putting a cap on in the rain. She says capping the landfill will stop rainwater from entering the closed cells preventing the accumulation of contaminated chemicals.

“These measures that we’re going to put in place in regards to the liner drainage layers it’s going to reduce the amount of PFAS,” Taylor said.

The project is being paid for by 3M as part of the November 2021 settlement in a long-running PFAS contamination lawsuit.

Although the project has been approved by the Morgan County Commission, it will next have to be approved by the Alabama Department of Environmental Management.

The City of Decatur will address the plan at a June 5th meeting. Following a public hearing, the city council will also be tasked with a decision to approve the project as well.

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