ADEM idea concerning PCB study worries environmentalists

A public advisory against eating fish from Choccolocco Creek is seen on Alabama 77 outside Lincoln. An Alabama Department of Environmental Management proposal to shift waterways to different pollution control programs has some concerned. (Anniston Star photo by Stephen Gross)

Anniston is hardly the only Alabama city to suffer from historical troubles of environmental pollution. Alabamians are well aware of how Black Belt cities and urban areas have long been used as dumping grounds for industries that take advantage of our state's weak environmental pollution laws and feckless politicians.

Given that, I urge you to read this from The Guardian of London: "'We're not a dump' – poor Alabama towns struggle under the stench of toxic landfills."

Anniston is briefly mentioned. But the story's larger arc is one that slices open Alabama's generational sins that have endangered the lives of low-income residents -- minorities, mainly -- and shown that state government simply does not care.

Consider this:

"But while the distress lifted from West Jefferson, other communities across Alabama struggle forlornly in a miasma of nearby landfills. Alabama has gained a reputation as the dumping ground of the US, with toxic waste from across the country typically heaped near poor, rural communities, many with large African American populations.

"Alabama has a total of 173 operational landfills, more than three times as many as New York, a state with a population four times greater but with just 54 dumps. California – three times larger than Alabama and containing eight people for every Alabamian – has just a handful more landfills than the southern state."

And this:

"The low land values and extreme poverty of the (Black Belt) region make it a magnet for landfills, with waste hauled in from across the country for as little as $1 a ton. Acceptance of landfills is delegated to counties, causing potential conflicts of interest with local officials involved in waste disposal. Residents are often blindsided by the appearance of new dumps."

And this:

"Uniontown, half an hour west of the civil rights touchstone of Selma, is a place where nine out of 10 residents are black and the median household income is $14,000 a year. Uniontown’s roads are derelict, the only grocery store closed last year and its elementary school can only afford to educate children up to grade three.

"Uniontown is also home to the Arrowhead landfill, an artificial green mountain twice the size of New York’s Central Park that looms over the tumbledown town. It can accept up to 15,000 tons of waste a day, from 33 states. In 2012, ADEM allowed Arrowhead to expand in size by two-thirds."

-- Phillip Tutor