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November landfill fire still burning

A fire that has been burning for more than a month at a landfill close to Moody, has caused the St. Clair County Commission to issue a State of Emergency declaration.

Commission Chairman Stan Batemon told reporters the declaration gives the county more authority to fight the fire.

“That resolution (state of emergency declaration) literally opens the door for St. Clair County to legally get on that property, to legally put the fire out, and to legally expend government money on that property,” Bateman said.

The fire was originally reported Nov. 25. Officials say the inferno is burning around 25 to 50 acres and in certain places more than 100 feet below the surface. It has caused a large portion of Birmingham to be exposed to smoke with unknown contaminates.

The executive director of the Birmingham area air quality group GASP, Michael Hansen, was critical of the state’s response.

“It’s absolutely unacceptable that state agencies are not doing more to protect the people from this dangerous air pollution event,” Hansen said. “We need a multi-agency state and local response to this situation.

“ADEM (Alabama Department of Environmental Management) has not been doing its job. They’ve been asleep at the wheel, and it’s really unfortunate.”

ADEM officials said putting out the fire will not be easy because of its location.

They said there will be an investigation into what may have caused the fire. Officials have also advised people who have “breathing-related health conditions,” to consider “temporarily locating.”

The Jefferson County Department of Health, which is in charge of regulating pollution throughout Birmingham, cannot act because the fire is out of its jurisdiction.

Austen Shipley is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News.

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