Remember this post from about three weeks ago, all about how the Alabama Department of Transportation had botched a road construction project and contaminated Mobile’s water supply with massive amounts of sediment? And how the intrepid Alabama Department of Environmental Management didn’t even notice till newspaper reporters and Mississippi officials pointed out the problem?
Then I’m sure you’ll be shocked and stunned to discover that said ADEM, when tasked with determining an appropriate punishment for ALDOT, levied a whopping fine of……$75,000. That’s less than 2/10 of 1 percent of the total cost of the road that ALDOT was building. Wow, that’ll hurt.
The department could have levied a higher fine, up to $250,000, according to state documents, but “compromised the amount of the penalty the department believes is warranted in this matter in the spirit of cooperation and the desire to resolve this matter amicably.”
What’s the problem — are ADEM officials afraid that the ALDOT people will get mad and pout? Or maybe take their toys and go home? Not to worry, though; this severe punishment also means that ALDOT will have to clean up after itself. Well, sort of.
The Transportation Department will also have to remove some sediment from Big Creek Lake, and certain creeks and wetlands, under the terms of the order setting out the penalty.
Some sediment. Gee, I know the water-drinkers in Mobile feel better already.
Given ADEM’s lousy oversight, maybe this slap on the wrist is the result of intense embarrassment.
ADEM had inspected the site 12 times before the Press-Register documented significant problems there in mid-September, including failure to use even basic environmental controls in many areas. Beginning the day after the newspaper’s first story, ADEM discovered violations at nearly every place the roadway crosses creeks or wetlands, according to agency documents obtained by the newspaper.
Good thing for the people of Mobile that highly skilled environmental expert, um, reporters were on the job. Of course, the fine will come straight out of the pockets of taxpayers. It would never occur to ALDOT to, I don’t know, dock the pay of the people who didn’t do their jobs. Given the size of this massive CF, taking a bit away from each employee involved could cover the $75,000 without pinching too much.
Speaking of fines, is the state going to assess a penalty against ADEM? Trey Glenn’s $2.4 million boondoggle — I mean airplane — didn’t help the department uncover the problems in Mobile. Maybe it’s time to sell that baby. The state could use the proceeds to clean up Mobile’s water and maybe even reimburse the taxpayers for ALDOT’s fine.
H/T, Blues reader Pat