ADEM forces Riverchase United Methodist to stop construction

By AMY JONES / Associate Editor

HOOVER – The Alabama Department of Environmental Management has ordered Riverchase United Methodist Church to halt construction on an addition to the church because of water pollution violations.

ADEM spokesperson Jerome Hand said ADEM issued the order March 4 after mud washed out of the construction site and into a nearby pond.

“Construction places cannot let mud run off their site,” Hand said. “It’s in violation of their permit.”

Riverchase UMC has 60 days from the date the order was delivered to get back into compliance with the permit. That date is May 4, Hand said.

The contractor, C.E. Huffstutler Contracting LLC, must implement management practices to ensure sediment and mud can no longer run off the site.

Riverchase UMC Senior Pastor Jim Savage said those practices are quickly being put into place.

“This is a normal occurrence when you’ve had a flash flood type of event. We had five inches of rain over a 24- or 48-hour period,” he said. “We’ve redone (the barriers) at least three or four times. Each time, they’ve been fixed, and we just fix it and move on.”

Savage said he expects the barriers to be completed within a week. He said ADEM has been helpful throughout the construction process.

“ADEM is more of a partner in this construction than anything,” he said. “They’ve helped us keep everything running smooth. It’s just a matter of getting everything ready for them to help us move forward.”

Church officials have consulted with Southeastern Pond Management about cleaning the mud out of the nearby pond, and plan to do so as soon as possible, Savage said.

“We’re just waiting on the professionals to tell us what to do and when to do it, and at that point, we will,” he said.

The order to halt construction came after two ADEM inspections on Nov. 1, 2010 and Feb. 3, 2011. On both occasions, ADEM inspectors saw “significant accumulations of sediment resulting from discharges at the facility” offsite, according to a copy of the ADEM order.