Tag: ABC Coke
A fight over ABC Coke’s air pollution in Birmingham and Tarrant entered federal court Tuesday as groups charged that a consent decree agreement approved last spring is too weak to guarantee that unlawful discharges of the cancer-causing chemical benzene will stop. The action came in response to a government motion two weeks ago to finalize the consent decree. The Jefferson County Department of Health said today that it supported making the decree final. Read more.
The Environmental Protection Agency and Jefferson County’s Department of Health have settled civil rights complaints over air permits the department awarded to coke manufacturers in north Birmingham and Tarrant in recent years. But the EPA response has added to frustration over recent environmental developments in the heavily industrial part of Jones Valley, according to residents and officials at Gasp, a clean-air nonprofit group that has been involved in antipollution efforts there for most of the past decade.
“I am totally disappointed. It’s a slap in the face,” said Jimmy Smith of the Collegeville neighborhood, one of the complainants. “It makes no sense that we taxpaying citizens cannot (experience) happiness because we live in a ZIP code (35207) where toxic chemicals and metals poison our air and ground.”
Smith said the community’s relationship with the health department is broken.
“I would trust strychnine poison to not hurt my body more than I’d trust anybody at the health department now,” he said. “They are duty bound to protect citizens’ health, but it’s my experience that, from the head of it on down, they give decisions against us and for big business.”
The “informal resolution agreement” brokered by the EPA’s External Civil Rights Compliance Office instructs JCDH to enhance communication procedures and update nondiscrimination processes, but it does not include additional, targeted monitoring of air emissions and reduction in particulate matter and odors, which have been called for by the complainants. Read more.
Read BirminghamWatch’s earlier investigation:
Environmental groups say ABC Coke’s air permit renewal issued in April is flawed and are appealing to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to agree that it does not comply with requirements of the federal Clean Air Act.
The groups are asking the EPA to object to the five-year renewal of the permit issued to the coke plant by the Jefferson County Health Department under Title V of the act.
The EPA has until Aug. 13 to respond to the request by the Southern Environmental Law Center and Gasp, a Birmingham-based clear-air advocacy group.
The permit renewal was hotly contested by area residents and organizations at a health department public hearing last year, largely over health concerns in the neighborhoods near the Tarrant facility. Read more.
ABC Coke’s hopes for renewal of its operating permit for another five years are now in the hands of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The Jefferson County Department of Health submitted a proposed draft to the EPA for the permit renewal March 1, it announced today. Read more.
Drummond Company has agreed to pay a $775,000 civil penalty as part of a settlement contained in a consent decree relating to alleged violations of environmental laws at its ABC Coke Plant in Tarrant.
The announcement was made Friday by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Justice and the Jefferson County Board of Health. The consent decree, which was issued the previous day, will not be final until after a public comment period has elapsed.
The health department on Tuesday called the settlement “significant” and said it plans to use its half of the civil penalty to benefit public health in the area that was affected by the air pollution at issue. Stanton indicated that the area affected could extend beyond the city of Tarrant.
“We’ll have discussions with elected officials and others in the area to figure out what kind of projects will help the environment and the public health there,” Jonathan Stanton, environmental health services director, said. “We really want them to be involved in that process and help to guide us as to what they need.” Read more.