DECATUR, Ala. – During a virtual board meeting Thursday, the Decatur Board of Education made the unanimous decision to sell the former Brookhaven Middle School property to 3M for $1.25 million. The sale will allow the board to use the proceeds to address capital needs within the school system.
Brookhaven Middle School closed in 2018. The City of Decatur said it was built on an old landfill and asked 3M to investigate in July of 2019. Months later, Decatur City Schools filed a notice of intent to sue over high levels of PFAS found at the site.
3M made PFAS chemicals for decades at its Decatur plant and the Environmental Protection Agency said studies have linked PFAS chemicals PFOA and PFOS to health problems like some cancers, thyroid issues and low birth weight.
Morgan County property tax records show the property was valued at $487,500 in 2019. 3M’s purchase price nearly triples the value.
Before the school board voted on the matter, board member Dwight Jett questioned the system’s role in upkeep and maintenance once the property sells.
Decatur Superintendent Michael Douglas said once the sale is finalized, the school system will no longer be liable for anything related to Brookhaven.
“They would be responsible a minute after closing,” Douglas said. “If they didn’t, it would be a city issue in terms of them maintaining the property. We wouldn’t have any authority over them.”
Douglas said it’s his understanding that 3M plans to raze the property and use it as a remediation site.
The school board and 3M issued a joint statement on the sale:
“The sale will also allow 3M the opportunity to continue its environmental assessment of the site. The school was built on a former municipal landfill which 3M is now assessing as part of its ongoing PFAS examination of certain local landfills.
“3M and the Board expect the property sale to close in the coming weeks. Neither 3M nor the Board will make any further statements about the sale.”
Attorney Carl Cole, who is representing the Decatur City School board, said his office and the board are pleased with the settlement.