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Environmental Injustice in Uniontown, Alabama

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Southeast Green

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In 2009, Arrowhead Landfill in Uniontown became the new host for millions of cubic yards of coal ash after it spilled out of a landfill in Tennessee following a catastrophic dike failure. The coal ash in Tennessee contaminated land, rivers, reservoirs, and shore areas surrounding the landfill with arsenic and lead, leading the Environmental Protection Agency to conclude that there was a potential “imminent and substantial endangerment to the public health.”

Residents of Uniontown organized in opposition to what they saw as a racial and environmental injustice, speaking out against the risk to their environment and health, as well as the location of the landfill, which is across the street from several homes and next to one of the town’s historic Black cemeteries.

Some 35 residents filed a complaint with the EPA’s Office of Civil Rights under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The complaint alleges that the Alabama Department of Environmental Management violated their civil rights by allowing the Arrowhead Landfill to locate in their predominately Black neighborhood without adequate protections for the health of residents or the environment.

Some citizens also organized a concerned citizens’ group called Black Belt Citizens Fighting for Health and Justice, which created a Facebook page that publishes concerns about risks to their environment and health. Green Group sued over the Facebook posts, which included statements such as “we should all have the right to clean air and clean water” and “It affected our everyday life.”

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