Big Sky Environmental
Big Sky Environmental LLC is a subsidiary of the California-based Exoro Global LLC which operates the 1,523-acre Big Sky Environmental LLC Solid Waste Facility, also called the Flat Top Road Landfill or the Green Mountain Landfill, the state's largest solid waste disposal site, on the former Bessie Mines site in Adamsville.
Big Sky Environmental, a company formed by Gabriel Kim, purchased the 10-year-old landfill site, along with its permits, out of bankruptcy from Green Mountain Management of Atlanta, Georgia on August 17, 2015. The transaction was assisted by convicted former lobbyist and landfill developer Clayton "Lanny" Young. Former Waste Management regional director Tom Herrington was made general manager of the operation.
The landfill's permit from the Alabama Department of Environmental Management, originally awarded to Construction Management Services LLC on August 6, 2007, allows it to accept up to 25,000 tons of municipal solid waste and construction debris per day from any source in the contiguous United States. The permit was transferred to Green Mountain Management, a business owned by Dan Cowart of Norcross, Georgia through his company "Georgia Flattop Partners".
Former RealtySouth chief financial officer Gene Duncan was made general manager and CEO of Big Sky Environmental in November 2016. Adamsville City Council member John Click is the operations manger. In December Herrington filed a lawsuit against Big Sky, Kim, and Young, claiming, "breach of contract, negligence, wantonness, fraud, suppression, and deceit." The suit was dismissed on the grounds that there was no valid employment contract to enforce. The dismissal was appealed to the Alabama State Supreme Court which partially reversed the Court of Appeals and remanded the case to be dismissed on different grounds.
In April 2017 Big Sky Environmental began receiving train car loads of "biosolids" from municipal wastewater treatment plants in New York and New Jersey, which it used as cover material, "to stimulate plant growth on the slopes of the landfill cells." Despite the name, the material, primarily from sanitary sewers, is often semi-liquid in form. A rail spur was constructed at property leased from the Sumiton Timber Company, about six miles from the landfill, where the material was transferred to trucks. The Jefferson County Commission notified the operator that the railyard property was not zoned for handling noxious materials, which led to railcars of biosolids being housed indefinitely on sidings as far away as Parrish. The town of West Jefferson filed a separate lawsuit in state courts claiming that the landfill's operations have caused damage to the municipality. National media attention led the City of New York to cease using Big Sky Environmental to dispose of biosolids.
In January 2018 ADEM held a public hearing at Minor Middle School as part of the process of renewing Big Sky Environmental's landfill permit for another five-year term. The facility has since been licensed to accept "special waste" from wastewater treatment plants in Long Island, New York and Newark, New Jersey.
In February 2022 ADEM determined that Big Sky had violated their permit by constructing a new rail yard and accepting new train loads of sewer sludge and other wastes directly by rail. The department observed empty railcars with the logo of the Environmental Protection Improvement Company, a division of Synagro that moves sewer sludge by rail. The company was ordered to suspend operations until its permit could be amended to allow for direct delivery by rail.
- Curran, Eddie (August 2015) "“Landfill Lanny” Young is back, and appears to have wrested control of Alabama’s largest landfill." Mr Dunn Goes to Montgomery
- Pillion, Dennis (January 19, 2018) "Sludge fight: Legal battles over imported sewage waste rage on in Jefferson County." The Birmingham News
- Pillion, Dennis (January 26, 2018) "Sludge landfill hearing draws crowd, tears, and a bag of dead flies." The Birmingham News
- Pillion, Dennis (February 2022) "New York ‘poop train’ may be back in Alabama; state orders temporary halt." The Birmingham News
- Big Sky Environmental website