EPA, ADEM hope to stop REEF odor by Christmas
by Emily Adams
SYLACAUGA — Citizens near the REEF facility could receive an unusual but welcome Christmas present this year — the gift of fresh air.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Alabama Department of Environmental Management are on track to kill the odor-causing bacteria at the abandoned waste treatment facility before the end of the month, EPA federal on-scene coordinator David Andrews and Paul Rogers of ADEM announced at a City Council meeting Wednesday morning.

“Hopefully you’ll start smelling less and less of the odor and by Christmas morning, nothing,” Andrews said. “I can’t think of a better gift to give the community. I’m proud to be involved in this.”

EPA will use a solution of 35 percent hydrogen peroxide in the site’s three wastewater basins, which hold about 13 million gallons of waste, to eliminate the noxious odor and the hydrogen sulfide gas that causes it.

“Hydrogen peroxide is shown to be very effective in low doses for eliminating the odor, and not only the odor but the actual constituent, hydrogen sulfide,” Andrews said. “This is going to be one of several steps. What I wanted to present to the community as a great Christmas gift is to get rid of the odor, then we can go about our business of formally treating the wastewater, the metals and a few other organics.”

Andrews said EPA is designing a multi-stage system to completely treat the waste at the Twin Street site. The hydrogen peroxide will give them a three- to four-month window of odor control to progress with a long-term treatment plan, he said.

Mayor Doug Murphree thanked EPA and ADEM at the council meeting, a sentiment that was echoed by council members.

“I know these guys have caught some undue criticism and flak because of this thing, but I think about where we would be if they were not here,” Murphree said.

Tanker trucks carrying hydrogen peroxide will be entering the site in the coming weeks. EPA will release a fact sheet for the public with updates and explanations about its progress within a few days. Andrews will also give a presentation at the next City Council meeting on Dec. 18 at 6 p.m. at City Hall.

EPA became involved with REEF in October when ADEM requested assistance to treat emergency conditions at the facility. REEF served area businesses and industries from around 2007 to 2010 and has since filed for bankruptcy.

Also at the meeting, the council:

• Heard from Police Chief Chris Carden, who said an incident at the First United Methodist Church playground Tuesday is under control. Police responded to reports of a juvenile with a gun. The person did have a BB gun, and police handed the situation over to parents.

• Heard from Chamber of Commerce Director Carol Bates, who announced the winners of the Christmas parade float contest as follows: Westview Baptist Church, grand prize; Nemak, first place; ChristPoint Community Church, second place; Knollwood Christian School, third place; Piggly Wiggly and Hagan Pharmacy, fourth place; and Radiant Life Assembly of God Church, Spirit of Christmas award.

• Heard from Mary Hicks of I Can Achieve, who thanked the council and city for its work and commended Bates for a great Christmas parade.

• Adopted a resolution authoring BWSC consultants to file a non-binding pre-application with the FAA for land acquisition funding on behalf of the city. The funds are intended to purchase Industrial Development Board-owned property between the existing hangars at the Municipal Airport and a speculative building and parallel to the runway on Billingsley Road.

• Accepted a $1,891 proposal from CentiMark to add a gutter to the city-owned building at 225 N. Norton Avenue leased by the Talladega County Economic Development Authority.

• Approved expenses for police officers David Kimbrough, Joshua Morris, Lee Davenport, Matthew Abrams, Michael Czachowski, Christopher Vinson and Christopher Childress to attend a defensive driving course at the Montgomery Police Training Center on Dec. 11 and 13. Cost is $35 each.

• Authorized payments totaling $145,791.75 for accounts payable received to date for November.

Contact Emily Adams at eadams@dailyhome.com.

© 2012