Budget Cuts Could Mean Lax Enforcement at Alabama’s Landfills

Proposed budget cuts to the Alabama Department of Environmental Management could spell the end of virtually all landfill and medical-waste facility inspections, state officials say. The state plans to cut $1.3 million of the $5 million it normally contributes to the department’s budget; the remainder of the $46 million budget comes from federal money earmarked for specific programs, such as clean water, and cannot be used for the inspection program. Currently, each of Alabama’s landfills is inspected four times per year; under the new budget, the state’s 23 medical-waste facilities will not be inspected at all, and two inspectors will have to do their best with all 190 landfills. That’s worrisome, says solid-waste division chief Larry Bryant, because “if a landfill operator knows that he might not get inspected for two years, he might cut corners to save money. There are a lot of ways to cut corners in a landfill.”