Toxin Contamination on Decatur Aquadome Property Raises Concerns


According to a new report by 3M, there are concerns about the air quality in the Decatur Aquadome and Decatur Youth Services properties. The site on which these two properties are located in a former landfill contaminated with chemicals. It is a 40-acre municipal landfill that served as the repository for the municipal and industrial waste between the 1940s and 1964. 

The report notes that the contamination is a result of vapor rising from the former landfill. Although state regulators have required monitoring to determine if some of the vapor contaminants could enter the building, 3M Co. does not intend to install any monitors inside the building.

Decatur Resolves to Move

As revealed by the Decatur Youth Services Director, Brandon Watkins, they are planning to move as soon as possible to prevent a possible toxic situation. Watkins argued that his greatest concern was the youths flocking their offices whenever their programs are running. 

The director believes that the rising toxic vapors can create toxic pollutants, especially in an enclosed setting. The argument, however, contradicts 3M spokesman’s claims that preliminary data indicates people in the building are not exposed to any risks.  

3M had issued an initial report earlier in March noting that they did not suggest doing the test to confirm whether contaminants could find their way into the offices via vapor intrusion which is a leading cause of respiratory illnesses

The spokesperson I did not rule out the possibility of monitoring entirely. 3M would take the necessary action if planned vapor sampling for volatile compounds revealed that more monitoring was necessary. 

The Alabama Department of Environmental Management responded to the report, noting that it was necessary to perform the tests given the types of chemicals identified. Most of them could be carried in the air in the form of vapor.

The contaminated vapor would get dispersed when emitted to the open air and become less concentrated. However, the same vapor gets concentrated upon entering an enclosed structure and could have detrimental effects.

3M’s Fresh Litigations

Speaking about the situation on Thursday, Mayor Tab Bowling declined to issue any comments over a possible relocation of DYS, citing ongoing litigation involving the city and 3M. Notably, it is not the first litigation against 3M. The entity faced claims by Decatur City Schools earlier on but settled by buying the schools’ 15-acre land for $1.25 million. 

One of the Bear Street residents feels that if there were enough chemicals to warrant the closing of a school, there is no doubt the contaminants will make their way into their houses. Beard Street is among the heavily populated areas along the landfill’s perimeter.