Getting Results: Limestone Cleaning Up Illegal Dump Site

ELKMONT, Ala. (WHNT) – Taking action and getting results and tonight, important results for a Limestone County viewer who contacted us asking for help with an illegal dump site that was burning and making his family ill. Limestone County officials started cleaning up the site on Leggtown Road on Monday. The state declared the site a potential health hazard after some residents complained smoke from the site was making them sick. Now, it’s all being hauled to a legal dumpsite in neighboring Morgan County.

When we visited the dump site Monday, county workers were busy keeping the debris watered down to prevent dust from blowing from the trash site. A barrier has been installed to prevent run-off into Shoal Creek, which is just a few feet away. Cattle on the property were seen drinking from the creek just downstream of the trash site.

Signs have been erected on the bridge over the creek on Leggtown Road warning that neither the state nor the county had tested the material for asbestos. However Limestone County Commission Chairman Stanley Menefee told us last week it was just construction debris. “All the debris, I don’t think there was any asbestos in that up there, or it didn’t show, that I saw that. So, uh, but it was mainly brick and blocks and just building materials,” Menefee told WHNT News 19.

While we were at the site, four county dump trucks arrived to be reloaded with debris. They’re taking it to the Morgan County Regional Landfill on Highway 20 between Decatur and Trinity. Menefee says he expects the site to be cleaned up by the end of the week.

The Alabama Department of Environmental Management ordered the clean-up saying the site constituted a health hazard. The debris came from an old grocery store and shopping center the county bought and tore down.

6 comments

  • Debbie

    I want to KNOW if there is asbestos in that mess! They are bringing it into my county! Why isn’t someone testing it to find out if there is asbestos in it???

  • Jennifer

    This has been a total fail from start to finish, they allowed it to burn for 6 weeks even though there was an ADEM letter telling them to have it put out by May 15th, it kept burning and got many in Leggtown very sick. At that time, no one from ADEM came out to make sure they were putting it out as they were told to do (First Fail). Then a few weeks ago when we had all that rain and the creek came up and flooded this waste and washed some of it down the creek and into the Elk River, note the barrier they placed up was just put in last week. Now after several requests from residents, ADEM refused to test this debris or if they have tested it they are refusing to release the findings. I also find it horrible that the County refuses to test it as well and have potentially put the cleanup workers at risk. Local residents concerned that the cleanup workers could be putting their health at risk put up signs notifying them that this waste was not properly tested. The county covered the signs with paperwork saying these signs are illegal…unbelievable.

    Yesterday when they started the cleanup we did not see a water truck there spraying anything down until the news asked them where it was and why they were not following the instruction of ADEM on the clean up. Late afternoon one finally showed up but by then the debris had already left a heavy haze in the air yet again. I feel they know it has Asbestos and other toxic materials in it, if it did not have all these toxic things in the pile why did they not bring it to a landfill in the first place???

    I have personally seen what is in this waste pile and it is more than just Block and Building Materials. The County illegally dumped not only normal building waste, but fiberglass, possibly asbestos, asphalt roofing material, treated lumber, foam, plastic, chemicals, PVC pipe, carpet and even electronic circuit boards. This garbage was all burning and making toxic fumes for weeks.

    The news media’s have been out since all this started and they have gotten some amazing footage but it is never on there and they have also spoken to a ton of the residents in Leggtown but yet only show one or two of the same people. Why are they not asking ADEM and the County why they are refusing to test this waste? How are they even going to be able to give the County the proper fines if they do not test the materials? I have no idea why these questions are not being asked and why people are dropping the ball on this major story.

    It may not be a huge story to some of you but it is to us that live in this area. It’s a shame what they have done to the people of Leggtown and if this was just building materials like they say it was then why did they not bring it to a proper landfill in the first place? Well they Could NOT because it is not just Building Materials and Blocks…this is all such a shame.

  • Leggtown

    In summary, what happened is the Limestone County Commission illegally demolished the old L&S shopping center without first testing it for asbestos or other hazards. Instead of properly disposing of this waste (possibly including asbestos), they got the bright idea they would drop at least 60 dump truck loads of this garbage on a farm in the middle of Leggtown. To make it worse, they dumped it within feet of Shoal Creek that feeds into the Elk River. Then they were negligent enough to set it on fire and let it burn and smolder for weeks. Many of us in Leggtown got very sick from breathing this toxic mess and some people actually ended up in the hospital.

    ADEM and the County played bureaucratic games pointing fingers at each other waiting for a cleanup plan. Meanwhile, we continued to breathe these fumes for almost 6 weeks. On top of that, we had record rain and the creek flooded into this dump and took a lot of toxic liquid and solid waste downstream towards the Elk River.

    Some of us in town went down to the creek to see what was actually in this waste pile. It’s not just concrete block and wood like they are saying; it also has foam, fiberglass insulation, roofing shingles, chemical cans, plastics and tons of burnt up electrical waste material including printed circuit boards from somewhere. No wonder these fumes were so toxic and made us sick. Unfortunately, a lot of this material burned up and was washed downstream when the creek flooded.

    Some locals went and took detailed pictures, got samples in the creek and properly documented this waste pile. Since ADEM and the county will not test this, people are talking about having this tested by an independent lab to see what the town was exposed to. An entire small town got sick and after repeated request for testing, ADEM has yet to test the water, soil or air? How can you approve a cleanup plan if you don’t even know what you are cleaning up? What in really going on here?

    Being concerned for the cleanup workers health, people in town put up a few signs letting the workers know this waste was not tested and we don’t know what’s really in it. The county covered up these signs so people could not see them and said the signs were illegal to put up near the road. Kind of funny considering election signs were sitting next to these signs. From what we can tell, the cleanup crew is not keeping the dust down as required and they are not wearing any protective gear. Without proper testing of this waste, we have no idea if there’s lead or asbestos in this dump. Not knowing what’s in this dump pile, why in the world would you let your employees clean up something like this without at least wearing respirators?

    I’m extremely concerned we might have long term heath issues from breathing these toxic fumes for weeks. I’m worried about the families and children that live closest to the burn pile; many have gotten seriously ill. Dead animals were found near the burn pile including a calf that was within yards of the dump. Without an animal necropsy being performed, I have no way of proving these animals deaths are connected to this, but it’s awfully suspicious.

    It’s long past time for some national level news source or outside Federal agency to come down here and do a detailed investigation of the Limestone County Commission and the people responsible for this disaster. These fools got local families sick, polluted the water, air and soil and caused enormous amounts of anxiety, stress and worry to all of us in Leggtown. The level of negligence and corruption surrounding this incident is mind-boggling.

    The people responsible for this illegal dump should be severely fined personally, formally charged and prosecuted for doing this to us. If they just fine the county, it will be us taxpayers that will be picking up the tab, not those actually responsible. Taxpayers already paid over $500k for this useless L&S building, now we are all paying for this clean up and possibly a huge fine.

  • Chucky

    Apparently it is time to work up a list of politicians involved, and make certain they are recalled or voted out. There is also a landowner who must have given permission for this site to exist on their farm. If they didn’t, it is even more illegal.They should participate in paying for the cleanup. Doubt any of that ever happens though.

  • Leggtown

    From my understanding, the actually owner of this land may not have had a clue what was going on until it was reported in the news. The guy that dumped this mess is only leasing this land from the actual owner and he worked with the Limestone County Commission to dump it there. It’s totally insane what is going on here. They destroyed this guys land and his property value, it will never be right again no matter how they clean it up. I feel it’s also hurt our property values in Leggtown. There are countless stories about this toxic dump being in the middle of our town on every internet search engine you can imagine. Who in the right mind is going to want to buy land near this or our town when they find out there was a huge illegal toxic waste dump here. Lord only knows what impact this mess will have on our long term health.

    I think the only way the taxpayers of Limestone County and all of us in Leggtown are going to see justice will be with Federal or outside involvement. I don’t have much faith in the Feds either, but it’s clear we are not going to get help at the local or state level. I guess what makes me most mad is if any of us average citizens did something this illegal and outrageous, they would throw us under the jail and they would ruin us with fines, penalties and liens. I also find it funny that the local police will put in considerable time tracking down people that dump garbage and litter by finding personal info in the trash. Depending on the amount and size of litter dumped, they will often arrest the person and heavily fine them. I guess if you are the county you can dump and entire shopping center, set it on fire, get people sick, pollute the air, water and soil and then try to cover up what toxic crap might be in it and that’s not a big deal? I guess the law is just for us little people to follow.

    The hypocrisy of this situation is unbelievable. This the first time most of us every needed the help of government, instead of helping us, they turned on us. No wonder most people have zero faith in any level of government anymore, and can you blame them?

  • Leggtown

    From my understanding, the actually owner of this land may not have had a clue what was going on until it was reported in the news. The guy that dumped this mess is only leasing this land from the actual owner and he worked with the Limestone County Commission to dump it there. It’s totally insane what is going on here. They destroyed this guys land and his property value, it will never be right again no matter how they clean it up. I feel it’s also hurt our property values in Leggtown. There are countless stories about this toxic dump being in the middle of our town on every internet search engine you can imagine. Who in the right mind is going to want to buy land near this or our town when they find out there was a huge illegal toxic waste dump here. Lord only knows what impact this mess will have on our long term health.

    I think the only way the taxpayers of Limestone County and all of us in Leggtown are going to see justice will be with Federal or outside involvement. I don’t have much faith in the Feds, but it’s clear we are not going to get help at the local or state level. I guess what makes me most mad is if any of us average citizens did something this illegal and outrageous, they would throw us under the jail and they would ruin us with fines and liens. I also find it funny that the local police will track down people that dump garbage and litter by finding personal info in the trash. Depending on the size of the litter dumped, they will often arrest the person and heavily fine them. I guess if you are the county you can dump and entire shopping center, set it on fire, get people sick, pollute the air, water and soil try to cover it up what might be in it and that’s not a big deal?

    The hypocrisy of this situation is unbelievable. This the first time most of us every needed the help of government, instead of helping us, they turned on us. No wonder most people have zero faith in any level of government anymore, and can you blame them?

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