Taking Action: Toxic Burn Pile In West Limestone Worries Neighbors

LIMESTONE COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) – Tranquil farmland nestled in the Lester community of Limestone County.

“This is just like a little heaven out here,” said resident Margie Perry.

On April 22, though, debris from the demolished L&S Food Market in Athens was hauled out to private property off Leggtown Road.

About four days later, the rubble was burned and, as of May 30, continues to smolder.

“The smoke was so bad you could not even come outside your home,” said Perry.

Perry lives down the road from the burn pile.

Throughout the last month, she and several of her family members came down with bronchial infections.

Her son has spent the last week in Madison Hospital with pneumonia and Perry says the smoke from the burn pile may be to blame.

“The doctors said that that could very well be the reason,” said Perry.

She and several of her neighbors called the Alabama Department of Environmental Management to inspect the building debris.

“They came and checked it out and said that it was asbestos, tar, insulation, and everything in it,” said Perry.

ADEM performed its inspection on May 6.

It then issued a notice of violation to the owner of the property, Johnny Abernathy, which he received on May 10.

ADEM then received notice from Limestone County District 3 Commissioner Bill Latimer on May 16 indicating that the Commission “contributed to the creation of the unauthorized solid waste dump at the referred location.”

On May 29, County Commissioner Stanley Menefee was issued the same notice of violation.

The notice described the unauthorized solid waste dump site as a menace to public health.

Abernathy and the Commission have 30 days from receipt of the letter to submit a written remediation plan.

Once the plan is approved by ADEM, they have another 30 days to complete the removal.

Menefee could not be reached for comment.

WHNT News 19 spoke with Abernathy, but he refused to speak on camera. He did say that he and Latimer were working on a clean-up plan.

When Latimer was reached for comment, he said, “my attorney has advised me to not comment on that matter at this time.”

He did mention that the issue will likely be up for discussion at next Tuesday’s county commission meeting.

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