Alabama's environmental agency needs to do a better job responding to chemical releases into the Tennessee River in north Alabama, Gov. Kay Ivey said Wednesday.
Responding to media reports that 3M released pollution for years without state intervention or disclosure, Ivey told reporters in Huntsville on Wednesday that the Alabama Department of Environmental Management needs to present solutions to the problem.
"I have a lot of respect for ADEM authority, but this case needs solutions on the table and I'm not seeing many of those solutions. And while I have a lot of respect for the ADEM and their operations ... I look forward to having some real solutions offered to address the concerns of those citizens," Ivey said in response to a question from WHNT-TV.
Ivey said the state doesn't actually control the agency, which is overseen by a seven-member commission and monitors environmental enforcement in the state. However, governors appoint members to the commission under state law.
"Well, the state does not control ADEM, per se. It's a state agency so everybody assumes. But anyways I'm just encouraging them to show some positive possible solutions," Ivey told WHNT.
The company this week said it's looking at possible contamination at old landfill sites in Morgan and Lawrence counties dating back to the 1950s.
Maplewood, Minnesota-based 3M has operated a plant in Decatur since 1961.
Decatur and Morgan County officials said this week they had requested 3M test the three former Decatur landfill sites.
Decatur Mayor Tab Bowling also said the company itself said it dumped potentially harmful chemicals in the now-closed landfills.
“It’s just a concern,” Ray Long, chairman of the Morgan County Commission, said Tuesday. “A lot of people have a lot of concern right now with the word 3M and any dump site here even though 3M didn’t start here until 1961. People are in the mode now because 3M announced a few weeks ago they had leakage.”
3M reported earlier this year in a letter to regulators that a self-investigation determined it had released the chemical "FBSA and may have released FBSEE from its manufacturing operations to the Tennessee River. ... Due to these concerns, 3M has ceased both its FBSA and FBSEE manufacturing operations at its Decatur plant as well as any associated waste stream releases from those operations.”
Long and Bowling asked 3M to test the former dump areas at the Brookhaven/Aquadome, Old Moulton Road/Mud Tavern and Deer Springs/Flint areas. There is concern about the possible presence of PFAS compounds PFOA and PFOS that 3M ceased manufacturing in 2000.
“Everybody is worried about 3M,” Long added. “We want them to test these landfills. It’s just a good idea to go back and test them and make everybody do it.”