ADEM Defends Handling of Drainage Ditch Contamination

The Alabama Department of Environmental Management is defending its handling of the Vista View TCE contamination site. ADEM says the amount of TCE surfacing in drainage ditch near the subdivision isn't enough for people to be concerned about if they stay out of a ditch in the area.

ADEM says it has consulted with the Health Department and is satisfied the TCE in the Vista View area is not concentrated enough to cause that much concern. But it does say there will likely be a cleanup of some kind because the underground TCE is significant.

WSFA reported last week about written warnings that ADEM gave to homeowners in the area, and we laid out exactly how much TCE is in specific locations. Monday, the agency was preparing for a public meeting on the contamination. It says its biggest concern is the cleanup, and to avoid having the EPA declare it a Superfund site. "If you can get parties to work together and not go through the Superfund process, then you can get what you need to get done much quicker," said James Warr, Director of ADEM

However, lawyers for homeowners in the area are critical of how long it took ADEM and the Department of Transportation to tell the public of the TCE contamination. A study of ground and surface water contamination was done in March, and the report was completed in late September, but the results weren't made public until last week.

ADEM is holding two meetings Tuesday night on toxic plumes in the Montgomery area. One is on the capitol city plume downtown. The other is on the TCE plume near Vista View, to be held at ADEM headquarters on Coliseum Blvd.