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Mayor fears landfill effects

There was much disbelief and disappointment expressed by Atmore elected officials following the Conecuh County Commission’s decision to allow the construction of a landfill on a 5,100-acre site near Repton earlier this week.

Following a 3-2 vote Monday, the commission approved the application for construction by Conecuh Woods LLC, developers of the landfill.

Atmore Mayor Howard Shell was not at a loss for words Tuesday as he expressed his displeasure with the commission’s vote and questioning the elected officials’ intentions for siding with the landfill developers.

“I hope they know what they are doing,” he said. “It’s a sad day when you feel like a landfill is the biggest industry you can attract.”

Shell added that he was surprised with how the vote turned out.

“I was very disappointed that they would vote yes with so many people in their own county and surrounding counties as well as surrounding municipalities pleading with them not to for all the scientific reasons they were given not to do that,” he said. “It was very disappointing that they would vote that way.”

Atmore Mayor Pro-Tem Jim Staff, who attended a public hearing attended by mostly those against the landfill in Conecuh County last month with Shell, said he was also shocked by the vote.

“I cannot believe that the county commissioners went against the will of everybody up there,” Staff said. “That is their county and they have a responsibility to the people that elected them into office. If it’s that unpopular, there’s got to be something wrong with it.”

According to landfill developers, 1,600 acres of the 5,100-acre site will be for the landfill and the rest will be designated as buffer zones or industrial property. Shell does not see the project being a win-win for Conecuh County or any neighboring county.

“It’s never good, in my opinion, to say that we have the biggest landfill next door to us in Conecuh County,” Shell said.

Shell added that he fears that the potential of leakage is inevitable despite what Conecuh Woods LLC officials and engineers hired by the developers say, which he believes could contaminate drinking water in Atmore.

“Our aquifer runs right under where that thing is,” Shell said. “It’s just a scientific fact that the water is going to run right on down this way. They cannot build, it’s impossible, for them to put a liner in there that is not going to crack or leak, it won’t happen.”

In addition, traffic will more than likely become an issue too, Shell said.

“I don’t know how we are going to be effected by all of the garbage that is going to be coming in, supposedly from all over the United States,” Shell said. “They say 15 tons a day, so that’s going to be trucks on the road coming from everywhere, so we’ll get our share of traffic, I’m sure.”

With all that said, Staff is hoping the state will step in.

“I hope that the governor can get involved,” Staff said.

Gov. Robert Bentley recently ordered a moratorium on new large landfills.

“Why have a public meeting if you don’t listen to what the pubic has to say,” Staff asked?

The Conecuh County Commissioners made no comment other than their “yes” and “no” votes.