‘Alarming’ chemical levels found at undisclosed dump site in Decatur, environmental group says

Decatur
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DECATUR, Ala. – An environmental watchdog group says it has found a site in Decatur containing “alarming” levels of hazardous chemicals.

Tennessee Riverkeeper said Wednesday it had found significant amounts of perflouroalkyl substances at what appeared to be a former dump site near San Souci Cave Road.

“These levels are significant because they are very high levels to be found in a stream,” the group said in a news release. “Additionally, there were other PFAS related chemicals that were found through the certified lab test results.”

The site, which the organization said did not appear to be previously disclosed to the public, was reported to the group by a concerned citizen.

Tennessee Riverkeeper said its testing showed 6,100 parts per trillion of perfluorooctanesulfonic acid, and perflourooctanic acid chemicals registered at 5,700 parts per trillion. The EPA’s lifetime health advisory level for those chemicals is 70 parts per trillion in drinking water. There is no EPA health advisory for PFAS in soil.

Attorney Barney Lovelace represents the city of Decatur in two lawsuits, including one by Tennessee Riverkeeper, filed against chemical company 3M in which the city is named as a defendant. He said the city learned about the Tennessee Riverkeeper’s data Tuesday afternoon, and officials were not aware of any dumping of chemicals near that location.

“Yesterday on behalf of the City and County we commissioned an environmental testing firm to also take test samples from that same stream,” Lovelace said. “That sampling will be conducted today but it will be several weeks before we know any results. We have also notified 3M of this situation and informed them that we expected 3M to immediately investigate this claim and remediate any presence of those chemicals in that area.”

A 3M spokeswoman said in an email that the city brought the report to the company’s attention Tuesday.

“We are working with the City to gather additional information, and we will coordinate with ADEM with respect to any further investigation or remediation that may be warranted,” the spokeswoman said.

The City of Decatur has already requested 3M investigate three other sites for chemical contamination. The three closed landfills, including the site of the now-closed Brookhaven Middle School, showed high levels of PFAS chemicals, according to 3M’s initial study of the sites.

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