A Mobile recycling center in the North Crichton area is facing fines after being cited for a number of regulatory violations by the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM).
Earth Resources Recycling located at 709 Western Drive was cited in a proposed administrative order handed down by ADEM Director Lance LeFleur on June 8. The order recommends monetary penalties of $23,000 and requires the business to submit a corrective action plan.
According to its website, Earth Resources Recycling provides curbside pickup of recyclable materials to roughly 1,300 residents throughout Mobile County.
The alleged violations involve issues at its Western Drive site for improper storage of materials, missing clerical items and lack of security.
ADEM first inspected the recycling site in February 2021 where agents reportedly found:
- Paper products left uncovered
- A lack of space between material piles
- Mixing of various recyclables left exposed to the elements
- Materials overflowing into adjacent residential backyards and wooded areas.
A follow-up inspection was conducted on Jan. 25, 2022, and discovered materials were still overflowing from designated storage areas and a large amount of commingled material was not properly stored in receptacles.
ADEM also cited the recycling center for failing to file various operating reports and maintain inspection logs as is required by law. When ADEM executed their inspection they reportedly found the site unmanned, the gate left unsecured, and a lack of any signage clearly identifying the business.
Earth Resources has not faced prior fines or violations and was recommended for a total penalty of $23,000. The largest penalty was for improper storage which accounted for $11,000 in fines based on the severity of the violations and the standard of care. The failure to maintain operating records and have buffer zones each carried a $3,000 fine. Materials overflowing off property resulted in a $2,000 penalty.
Non-compliance with the order could result in further legal action including more civil penalties and potential criminal fines.
Braxton Kittrell told Lagniappe Earth Resources has been operating in the county for two decades off of Mill Street. He purchased the business in 2017. Ever since then, he says it’s been an uphill battle and he’s fought through growing pains to keep the company viable.
Under former ownership, Earth Resources had agreements with Keep Mobile Beautiful for the city of Mobile for material disposal of glass. Kittrell said he was using the old Mobile Paper Mill on Mobile Street as a drop spot for paper and cardboard. However, both of those arrangements fell through.
In January 2020, Kittrell said he made the decision to expand the business to include disposal services and relocated to the 3-acre site on Western Drive. According to a lawsuit, Kittrell also made a $40,000 down payment to Global Environmental Group in December 2020 for a 60-foot horizontal baler in order to compact glass, paper and plastic. That unit has not been delivered and he has sued the company.
As cash flow is tied up in litigation, Kittrell said he’s been left to outsource disposal. However, the lack of equipment has resulted in a large backlog of material on the site.
He assured his customers he is still recycling all material and that flow is simply bottlenecked.
“We’re constantly working,” Kittrell told Lagniappe, noting he has five full-time employees.
“it’s just a matter of getting caught up and juggling a bunch of things at once. We had to upgrade our small operation essentially overnight and we’re going through growing pains. I’m learning as I go. I want to do the right thing and I want to have a good relationship with ADEM.”
Kittrell said he understands the violations by ADEM and explained the recent citation has been a two-year situation. Many of the citations, such as the required logs and operational reports, he wasn’t aware he was required to have.
The Western Drive recycling center backs up to residential homes. Kittrell said the loose paper was blowing from the center into their yards. However, moving paper inside his warehouse has mitigated that problem. He said he’s spoken with neighbors as the opportunities have come available and said he has good relationships with many of them.
“We’ve got a lot of stuff we’ve already brought into compliance,” Kittrell said. Paper aggregates are now stored indoors and cannot be blown into neighboring properties.
“I’ve worked very diligently to address concerns. The biggest thing is getting through this backlog,” Kittrell said.
He told Lagniappe he expects to cooperate and pay any fines he’s required. However, he hopes to be able to negotiate how much those fines are.
Calls to Kittrell’s legal counsel were not immediately returned.
Mobile Recycling Center
This page is available to our subscribers. Join us right now to get the latest local news from local reporters for local readers.
The best deal is found by clicking here. Click here right now to find out more. Check it out.
Already a member of the Lagniappe family? Sign in by clicking here