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Sewage sludge train cars in Birmingham to be moved after 'death smell' complaints

By Dennis Pillion

Several dozen train cars loaded with what appears to be sewage sludge from wastewater treatment plants in New York and New Jersey will be pulled back into a rail yard and off the tracks in north Birmingham, according to a statement from Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin's office.

According to photos and video posted to social media (featuring strong language), at least 80 train cars were parked on tracks Tuesday, near Finley Boulevard, between 27th Avenue North and 29th Avenue North.

The posting described a "death smell," emanating from the train cars, and said a local business had been getting calls about a possible dead body in the area due to the odor.

The train cars appear identical to shipments that have caused controversy and court battles in Jefferson and Walker Counties, as containers of sewage sludge from wastewater treatment plants in New York and New Jersey are carried by train to the greater Birmingham area for disposal at the Big Sky Environmental landfill in Adamsville.

Personnel at the landfill were not immediately available for comment as to whether the containers sitting on the train in Birmingham were in fact headed for the landfill.

Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of train cars full of the sewage sludge have been rolling into the landfill since early 2017, generating citizen complaints about odors and legal action from municipalities at every stop.

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