Something is very wrong in the Land of Cotton



Dr. Robert Bullard
Environmental Justice Movement Founder

Sunday, April 4, 2010

No Benefit For Vincent & Why

We live in unique geology in most of Shelby County, karst terrain that is made up of limestone, dolomite and shale that is intertwined with underground springs and rivers.

Vincent relies on ground wells, literally Mother Earth, for its city water supply.

Our farmland is beautiful and rich as a result of this geology and is prone to sinkholes as well because of it.

The underground springs and rivers hold up our farmlands and keep our entire area from becoming one giant sinkhole, such as what happened in Dry Valley, Montevallo, Alabama in 1972 (49 miles from Vincent) as the result of massive dewatering from a nearby quarry.

The largest sinkhole in US history occurred there measuring 425 ft. across and over 150 ft. deep.

It was even named the "Golly Hole" by the man who found it and "December Giant" by geologists that came and studied it.

Withdrawing massive amounts of groundwater in this type of terrain results in increased sinkholes and greater subsidience (earth movement/collapse) because the land no longer has the support the groundwater provides.

4000 sinkholes have formed in this county from mining and massive dewatering since the 1970s according to the USGS. 1700 additional sinkholes have been recorded in the same Alabaster/Calera/Montevallo area within 2 miles of mining operations.

Shelby County is referred to as the "sinkhole capital of Alabama" for good reason.

This is a problem in an area that already has the risk of sinkholes because:
1. The Colonial pipeline running through it that supplies the eastern seaboard
2. Gas and petroleum lines running through the quarry property
3. Close proximity to the Coosa River (a major waterway), within a mile of the quarry property
4. Proximity to our schools, Elementary 4500 ft., Middle/High approx. 6000 ft.
5. A thrust fault line running slightly to the west of Vincent
6. Spring Creek an untested (by the EPA or ADEM) tributary of the Coosa River very close to the quarry property
7. Excavation to exceed 400 ft. in depth, well below our water table and the depth of the nearby river
8. Reliance of residents on the river loop and surrounding areas on wells
9. Lack of a city sewer system and the great number of septic tanks

The cone of depression (COD) will widen as the quarry goes deeper during operations and will cause wells to foul and or go dry as most wells in this area do not exceed 150 ft. Septic tanks are at risk of rupture from sinkholes, subsidience and perhaps blasting shock waves.

As the COD widens, all water will be pulled towards the quarry and put it at real danger of pulling the river in on it. The flood plain area is contiguous to the property. If they do pull the river in on them, it could be catastrophic depending far down they have gone and how much area would flood before it could be contained to some extent.

This city is not capable of inspecting and enforcing the quarry, no one has the expertise and knowledge to know what to look for. The county is under EPA federal audit for it's non compliance in storm water management.
2009 EPA 34 page document link within article from Alabama River Alliance website and appears at the right:

In the NY Times link at right, all of Shelby Counties' water inspection reporting seems to "cease" in 2006.

The county is not doing their job, ADEM is not doing their job, the EMC who oversees ADEM has failed to supervise and the EPA is also "asleep at the wheel".

Theoretically, we feel we have no oversight with this issue.

This is a very large quarry at 886 acres and with that comes heavy machinery and trucks, diesel storage tanks (no one has mentioned them in any proposals), chemicals used in quarrying operations (also no mention if those and what they are) and the accompanying businesses that are always with quarries such as:
1. Lime production plants
2. Cement Plants
3. Asphalt plants
4. Construction and steel fabricators

In our county, these industries are located with almost every operating quarry and Chemical Lime, Carmeuse Lime and Lafarge North America are persistent and notorious violators according to the EPA records. Carmeuse and LaFarge merged earlier this year into one entity.

Carmeuse and Chemical Lime are Stephen Bradley's clients. Martin Marietta Aggregates is also a client of Mr. Bradley's and operates two quarries in this county.

White Rock Quarries is saying they will ship "95% of the product by rail". Those rail lines run within a few hundred yards of our schools, an added insult to the children of our area.

The quarry claims it will use "wet suppression systems for all operations and trucks entering and leaving the site" to control the dust. What happens when that dust dries or it rains? It runs off into our groundwater or is carried into the air by winds.

They first proposed 40 ft. berms surrounding the site, then lowered it to 20ft. on two sides. The Alabama Industrial Board mining reclamation section states; a "minimum of 50 ft. berms surrounding the site will be maintained throughout the operational period of any quarry".

Why would they "lower" the berm height on two sides? Is it an effort to make it so inhabitable for the River Loop residents that they will want to leave?

The River Loop population is predominantly black. Is this the same tactic used by the "Big Mules" in Alabama previously to take advantage of economically depressed areas comprised of mostly minority residents?

See the links at right on Black Belt "Big Mule" Coalition and "New Mules" keep kick alive in Alabama (Bard and big business carry on bad tradition in Alabama).

Alabama does not need to return to the times of yesterday, but it seems they have through BARD and corruptible politicians.

This quarry marched into town promising:
1. 125 jobs (well below the average workforce of any existing Alabama quarry)
2. Money to our schools (it will go to the county and be distributed, not directly to Vincent schools)
3. 10,000,000 in tax revenue (again to be distributed by the county, not directly to Vincent)
4. New rec center and bleachers to the Elementary school (perhaps to give them a better view of the "beautiful, modern quarry" right on top of them and get them out of the dust?)
5. A new senior center (we have a good one now, but you have got to get the older population on board don't you?)
6. Promises of being a "good neighbor" (straight out of the BARD "handbook")

Who really benefits from this quarry?
1. The county "power players" that are working behind the scenes from Columbiana
2. Alabama Power (also a BARD member and heavy polluter under EPA scrutiny) and other industries such as Chemical Lime, Bowater (Gaston) Steam Plant, etc. that rely on "scrubbers" to reduce their sulfuric emissions. Limestone and Dolomite are used in this process. The dirty little secret is the scrubbers do nothing to remove mercury and arsenic that is also a by product of their coal process.
3. Local officials that can have access to large sums of money from the quarry who already "keep" and "sporadically record" meetings and accounting.

Vincent will not benefit, it will be destroyed.

It will gain national notoriety if this quarry comes in for all the wrong reasons.

No one, it seems, is listening.....

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