Decatur business owner worried about community’s image after 3M chemical discharge

DECATUR, Ala - In April, 3M disclosed to the Environmental Protection Agency that it illegally discharged FBSA and possibly FBSEE into the Tennessee River. FBSA appears to have been listed as a chemical on the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

WHNT News 19 obtained documents showing that the Alabama Department of Environmental Management has known about this since at least 2014. The public did not know this was going on until earlier this month.

"It's a step in the wrong direction," Tyler Jones said.

Jones was born and raised in Decatur. He grew up to be a business person. He owns Highpoint Market, Whisked Cafe and the Railyard. He says the Tennessee River is part of daily life for people who live in his community.

"I mean it's our livelihood really. We play in it. It's recreation. It's our drinking water. It's what we bathe in," he explained.

He worries news of 3M's illegal chemical discharge could have a ripple effect in the community.

"I think my cause for concern is simply the stigma it puts around an economy, you know."

He thinks this could make it more difficult to entice people from outside the area to visit Decatur

"We have an influx of people from all over the country that come to eat since they stay in Decatur, stay in Huntsville and they come over. So, we don't want those people not coming to Decatur simply because they've read something in a newspaper about 3M," he said.

Even more so, he is concerned about what this means for economic development.

"It's hard to get anyone, entice someone to build their business, build their home, build their family when something like this is kind of hanging over the city's head," the business owner explained.

Jones says now that people know what 3M did, he only sees one good way to move forward.

"Cleaning it up, doing what we can, that's I think the main concern we should have at this point," he stated.

He says that will take help community leaders and should include holding those at fault accountable.

WHNT News 19 has reached out to Decatur Utilities and the Decatur-Morgan County Chamber of Commerce for comment.

A spokesperson from Decatur Utilities released this statement in an email.

"At this point DU is not going to comment on the 3M statement."

A spokesperson for the chamber also declined to comment in an email statement.

We don’t know what the impact to our area’s economic development will be, so at this time we are not in a position to comment.

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