UM trial to stop quarry begins

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 30, 2006

A lawsuit filed by the University of Montevallo Foundation along with the university against Middle Tennessee Land Development Company over a proposed quarry near Alabaster went to trial last week.

The trial, which is expected to last about two weeks, is being held

in Shelby County Civil Court in Columbiana before Circuit Judge Hub Harrington.

Middle Tennessee Land Development Company has proposed a limestone quarry off Smokey Road near Alabaster and adjacent to Ebenezer Swamp, which belongs to UM.

According to the lawsuit, UM and the UM Foundation are trying to stop the use of the property as a quarry &8220;which would result in the destruction of the Ebenezer Wetlands Ecological Preserve.&8221;

The case asserts the quarry would be an unreasonable use of property.

Specifically, Middle Tennessee Land Development Company is in the process of acquiring property for use of a quarry for which the site and the Ebenezer Wetlands Ecological Preserve share a common aquifer or bed of groundwater.

Last Thursday, UM attorney Richard Davis asked questions of hydrologist Lois George concerning the effect a quarry would have on the swamp. She was cross-examined by attorney Jessie Evans for Middle Tennessee Land Development Company.

George testified that if a holding pond were leaking, it could leak contaminants into the aquifer, which would then have a negative effect on the swamp.

She also testified that basin or ponds could have a triggering effect on sinkholes in the surrounding area.

In addition, she testified that wastewater discharge could impact the swamp by sending contaminants down Spring Creek.

She said she did not believe vegitation would control the contaminants because parts of it would be dissolved molecules the plants could not capture.

George also testified to possible contamination from diesel fuel loading at the site.

On cross-examination, Evans questioned George about natural sinkholes in the area and contaminations from surrounding subdivisions and businesses