ADEM Documents Show EBSCO Illegally Discharged 15 Tons of Hazardous Waste in Vincent Over 15 Years
There was a time, only a few days ago, when White Rock Quarries CEO Jim Hurley wondered why Birmingham-based EBSCO Industries would oppose his company’s proposal to bring a quarry and 120 well-paid jobs to the Town of Vincent.
Now, he doesn’t have to wonder any more.
“At first, we thought perhaps they were afraid we would take good employees away from their Vulcan Binder and Cover division, located near the proposed quarry. Our pay scale is, after all, roughly double what they pay. Then they said they were opposed to us because we might make sinkholes worse. But that didn’t really make sense, since they have two sinkholes on their property and apparently they’ve done nothing to fix them,” Mr. Hurley said.
But once Hurley had a chance to review EBSCO’s file at ADEM, including public documents in the file prepared by the Alabama Department of Environmental Management, a new and more compelling reason emerged for EBSCO’s opposition to the quarry: EBSCO’s history of illegally discharging hazardous materials into the environment in the Town of Vincent.
According to official documents obtained by White Rock from ADEM, EBSCO illegally discharged at least 31,955 pounds (more than 15 tons) of hazardous waste into the ground at its Vincent facility. The hazardous wastes included formaldehyde, solvents, hazardous metals and (perhaps most troubling of all) trichloroethane—a substance that breaks down into vinyl chloride, which is known as a cancer causing chemical in humans.
The illegal discharges, including 1,700 gallons of industrial wastewater every weekday, took place over a period of 15 years. According to ADEM, the chemicals were discharged through a common septic system, a practice ADEM believed might have contributed to the failure of the system at times.
Jim Hurley said the report provides the puzzle piece he was missing.
“It is now crystal clear to us that EBSCO has opposed the quarry because they were afraid their history of illegal dumping of hazardous waste would be brought out into the light of day once soil and water sampling was initiated in the vicinity of EBSCO’s plant as we begin quarry construction,” Hurley said.
“In Vincent, many residents get their drinking water from wells. We believe EBSCO doesn’t want the residents that use or have used groundwater in the past to be aware of the fact that their water supply was put at risk by EBSCO’s illegal and irresponsible violation of the law,” he said. “In fact, there is not a single document in ADEM’s files indicating that EBSCO ever told a single person in Vincent about their illegal activity”.
According to the ADEM file, the illegal dumping of hazardous waste was discovered in December of 1984 and took place from 1970 to 1985, apparently continuing even after the ADEM inspection that brought the violations to light.
In March of 1985, ADEM issued a “Notice of Violation” to EBSCO and ordered it to “immediately cease” the unpermitted dumping of hazardous wastes into the septic system.
Records contained in files at the Shelby County Health Department also reveal that EBSCO illegally installed a new septic system in 1999, without providing Shelby County an opportunity to review plans for the system, as required by law. The Shelby County Health Department still does not have copies of those plans.
Stephen Bradley, a spokesperson for White Rock Quarries said EBSCO’s opposition to the proposed quarry is remarkable in light of EBSCO’s own environmental safety record at its Vincent facility. He said EBSCO has, for example, paid consultants to write reports detailing a list of environmental concerns it says the proposed quarry would raise.
“When you consider that, by their own admission, EBSCO illegally discharged hazardous chemicals into the environment in Vincent for 15 years, they utterly lack credibility when they oppose—on environmental grounds—a company like White Rock Quarries that has never had a single water violation of any kind. EBSCO should clean up its own house before it finds fault with other companies who are operating in a responsible manner,” Bradley said.
White Rock’s proposal for rezoning of its Vincent land holdings will be heard by the Vincent Planning and Zoning Commission in the weeks ahead and will be referred to the Town Council for final action.
The proposed construction and operational plan for the quarry includes state- of-the-art environmental safeguards to maintain stringent quality standards with respect to air, water, traffic, lighting and noise abatement.