Cahaba Riverkeeper David Butler has been hard at work monitoring the river and following up on sources of contamination.  A case in point is reported in a recent story published on AL.com about the low penalty charged by the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) to the Carmeuse Lime and Stone’s Longview facility in Saginaw, Alabama.  Here is an excerpt from the story by Dennis Pillion:

     On September 7, 2016 an inspector with the Alabama Department of Environmental Management found something was wrong with Buck Creek, a tributary of the Cahaba River near Alabaster.

     The inspector was following up on a citizen complaint about pollution of the creek near Carmeuse Lime and Stone’s Longview facility in Saginaw, just off U.S. Highway 31, and found a murky white creek with water that looked like Milk of Magnesia and had a pH around the same level.

     There was aquatic life observed upstream of the Carmeuse facility, the inspector noted. Downstream there was none. 

     The inspector took water samples from Buck Creek registering 11.3 and 12.05 on the pH scale, which measures the acidity or alkalinity of liquids from 0 to 14. Milk of Magnesia, an alkaline substance used to neutralize excess stomach acid, has a pH of 10.3. Ammonia has a pH around 11.6 and household bleach is about 12.6.

     Alabama water quality standards specify that discharges should not raise pH above 8.5, or more than one unit above normal. Upstream of the facility that day, ADEM inspectors found Buck Creek had a pH of 7.24.

     The total fine to Carmeuse — for removing all observable living things from a section of the creek and raising the pH of the creek water to levels comparable to household cleaning products — was $32,000.  

     In a consent order negotiated with ADEM and finalized June 20, 2017 (full text embedded below), Carmeuse also agreed to submit a plan to reach compliance with their permit and other environmental laws, and to “evaluate the need and feasibility of remediating Buck Creek.”

Environmental group says it’s not enough

     Cahaba Riverkeeper David Butler, who first reported the to ADEM in June 2016, said he felt the Department’s response and penalties were inadequate and that the settlement is not in the best interests of the people of Alabama. …”

Read the full story here: