HEFLIN – Cleburne County might be on the hook for more than $285,000 to clean up a suspected fuel leak that appears to be coming from the county equipment shed on Haley Road, the county engineer said Monday.
That’s because the county might not be eligible to receive any funding from the Alabama Tank Trust Fund, which collects a per-gallon fee to help fund remediation and cleanup efforts, said County Administrator Steve Swafford during the commissioners’ work session.
The county has not given up on getting some money from the trust fund, he said. Swafford told the commissioners to work with state legislators on the issue. The state legislators may be able to help in this situation, he said.
The contamination was reported to the county more than a month ago by a resident who noticed the substance in a creek that flows onto his property. It was compounded by a problem with some water contamination at a house served by a water line near the creek.
The commission has spent just over $50,000 to clean up the contamination, test other homes on the water line for contamination and to fund a temporary the water line, county engineer Shannon Robbins said. In addition, the county has been working with PPM, an environmental consulting company out of Irondale, and the Alabama Department of Environmental Management to come up with a plan to clean up the contaminants that might have reached the area, he said.
PPM proposes installing a collection system and monitoring it for one year for an estimated $205,721. In addition to meet ADEM requirements the county would need to pay another $80,125 for investigations of the facility, Robbins said.
Those investigations would finally indicate exactly what the contamination is and where it is coming from, Robbins said.
The county has turned off its fuel tanks, where it suspects the leak may be originating, and has been using credit cards to fuel its vehicles, Robbins said. To get the fuel pumps up and running again, the county would need to spend $3,000 to file a line closure assessment and another $2,500 to file a spill prevention control plan with ADEM, Robbins said. The lack of the spill prevention control plan is one of the reasons the county might not be eligible for funding from the trust fund, he added.
The commissioners questioned if the cost of bringing the pumps back on line was worth the risk of possible future contamination. Commissioner Laura Cobb said the cost savings of buying fuel in bulk and filling up from county tanks is about 5 cents to 7 cents a gallon less than using the Wright Express credit cards.
In other business the commissioners:
— Heard the county’s garbage service contract will be up for renewal in November. The commissioners will need to decide if they want to renegotiate the contract or rebid, Swafford told them. Commissioners Cobb and Benji Langley said they get weekly complaints about the service.
— Heard from Commissioner Langley that he would like the commissioners to rescind a vote taken in March that exempted the county from a piece of state legislation that proposed regulations for wind energy projects. He also would like to institute a moratorium on local support of any such projects in the county for one year to allow study of the effect of a wind energy project.
— Were peppered with questions from an audience of about 16 about a proposed windmill project for Turkey Heaven Mountain. One issue was whether the developer, Nations Energy Solutions, or anyone else had approached the commission about closing a road to accommodate the project. No, the commissioners said. Will the commission have a public hearing on the project? another person asked. Yes, after they have done some research on the subject, the commissioners said. Is that just a stalling tactic? asked someone else. An obviously frustrated Commissioner Emmett Owen said the company hasn’t even committed to building in Cleburne County.
“To say what we’re going to do or not going to do,” said Owen, “somebody’s got to come to us first.”
— Heard that FedEx has proposed putting a drop box at the Cleburne County Courthouse.
— Heard a request from a resident to change the name of his street from Cleburne County Road 205 to Cleburne County Road 296. CR 205 connects to CR 49 at one end and CR 65 at the other. However a portion of the road becomes impassable between CR 65 and CR 296, which it intersects in a T. Because part of the road becomes impassable, emergency vehicle drivers, who may not be familiar with the area, have turned onto CR 205 at its intersection with CR 65 and have had to double back, delaying their response to emergencies along his part of the road, the resident said. He said if CR 205 from the intersection of CR 296 to the intersection with CR 49 were renamed CR 296, the drivers wouldn’t make that mistake.
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