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ADEM plane, bought to fight pollution, used to ferry officials

MONTGOMERY (AP) — The state environmental agency’s $2.4 million Cessna 208B Caravan, purchased new last year to spot pollution and find sites that were operating illegally, also has been used to transport officials on various trips.

Records examined by The Birmingham News for a story Saturday show that the Alabama Department of Environmental Management’s plane in 14 months made 56 out of 92 flights to spot pollution.

On the rest of the 92 flights, the plane was used to ferry ADEM officials, was rented to other state agencies, or was taken out for maintenance, test flights or flight training.

Eleven flights were used to take ADEM Director Trey Glenn, occasionally with another official, to Georgia; Gulf Shores; Destin, Fla.; Tunica, Miss.; and other spots.

The records from the time of the plane’s purchase in early 2006 to Aug. 1, 2007, were released this week in response to requests from the Birmingham newspaper.

ADEM officials also announced that future logs will be posted monthly on the agency’s Web site.

The logs sometimes have names misspelled, no purpose for the flights marked and the summary of the mission not listed or listed only as “ADEM.” Seven flights were listed as “MX” for maintenance, with six of the maintenance flights going to three metro Atlanta airports.

ADEM spokesman Scott Hughes has accepted questions from The News about the plane log but had not answered them Friday night. Glenn has refused to talk about the airplane the agency purchased the year after he became director.

ADEM is paying a total of $2.4 million for the plane over 10 years.

Operating costs

Operating the plane costs $450 an hour, including fuel, maintenance and the pilot, who earns $66,175 a year. ADEM is expected to go $3 million in the red in the coming fiscal year, according to Glenn.

While Glenn was in his previous job, as director of the Office of Water Resources, that office also bought a plane. That plane was smaller and cheaper — a used Beech Baron bought for $500,000.

Glenn also had $750,000 worth of equipment for flood mapping and photography added to the plane.

ADEM is overseen by the Environmental Management Commission. The commission’s chairman, Scott Phillips, has declined to speak about the ADEM plane.

One of the flights in the logs released this week showed that Glenn flew and spent the night in Tunica. Hughes previously said Glenn visited Tunica as part of his role on the board of the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway. However, that board listed him as a representative of the Office of Water Resources.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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