PARRISH — Parrish council members voted unanimously to deny a business license to Big Sky Environmental and any of its affiliates during a special called meeting held Wednesday afternoon.
However, the council did grant temporary approval for the company to remove the more than 250 metal containers loaded with a dry form of Grade A Bio-Solid Waste from a rail spur located in the Parrish town limits.
The containers have been transported from New York and New Jersey and are waiting to be taken to Big Sky Environmental’s landfill in Adamsville.
“We just signed our lease with Norfolk-Southern on Tuesday afternoon and had not had access to the property prior to that, other than last week when they allowed us to move our equipment here,” Gene Duncan, a spokesperson from Big Sky Environmental, said during the meeting. “You will never again see this number of rail cars on this site.”
Duncan said it has been several months since Big Sky has been allowed to move the containers to the landfill.
“Norfolk-Southern stored the rail cars here, that was not our choice,” Duncan said. “These containers have been here for a little over a year. The problem is they have been sitting there too long, there are too many of them and we have not been able to deodorize the containers up until we signed the lease with the railroad.”
The council gave the company three weeks to remove all of the containers from their town.
Parrish Mayor Heather Hall learned about the containers a little over a week ago from West Jefferson Mayor Charles Nix.
West Jefferson residents spoke out against Big Sky during a public hearing held at Minor Middle School in January to determine whether ADEM should renew the five-year general operating permit for the landfill.
Most of the complaints stemmed from spills that reportedly occurred while trucks were hauling the sewage sludge to the landfill.
“He explained to me about what happened in their community with these containers and informed me they had been moved and were now sitting in the town of Parrish,” Hall said.
Hall said she immediately began contacting the folks at Big Sky, the Alabama Department of Environmental Management as well as local and state officials regarding the matter.
“At first, we didn’t really seem to have an issue with a smell coming from the containers,” Hall said. “But when the temperatures reached 80 degrees on Thursday, the smell became unbearable.”
Hall said the odor that permeated from the cars was stifling on Thursday because of the high temperatures, high humidity and low cloud base.
“It was a nightmare for everybody, especially for those who have breathing problems,” she said.
The citizens who attended the meeting were given the opportunity to ask questions. Several of them shared their concerns regarding the containers being stored in their community, as well their disgust with the odor permeating from them.
The crowd applauded when council members denied Big Sky a license to do business.