Something is very wrong in the Land of Cotton



Dr. Robert Bullard
Environmental Justice Movement Founder

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Guy McCullough of Stephen Bradley & Associates and the Uniontown, Alabama Coal Ash Crisis

As we have quoted in the heading of this blog: "A man is known by the company he keeps"

We are continually astonished that wherever major environmental assaults are happening in this state, Mr. Bradley's name (and now his partner as PR man for Perry Uniontown Ventures) seems to always be a part of it.

In the blog entry "Why does one lobbyist hire a lobbying firm to lobby for them" we raised the question of why the Jones Group, LLC, a minority owned and run lobbying firm from Montgomery has Stephen Bradley & Associates (which includes Mr. McCullough) as their client? Perhaps this coal ash disposal issue has the answer; the Jones Group also lobbies for Perry Uniontown Ventures the owners of the site.

So now we have another question for this lobbying group that crows about their "championing for minority cause and rights"; Why are you helping to kill and sicken the residents of Uniontown and destroying the environment when the ones who are suffering the most are minority residents?

I think we know the answer to that one. It is about what it is always about, the money.

Bradley & Associates could not get influence with the black leaders of the community. So, they hire a minority firm to get a foothold into communities that they "need assistance" with.

Environmental injustice and environmental racism at it's worst once again. Mr. Bradley already did this to another black community, Emelle, now it was Guy's turn and we would be willing to bet they had conversations about it.

ADEM is in on the act too. Par for the course with them as history has shown us with that corrupt department with far too much power.

Everybody who gets rich off of these reprehensible acts never has to live in the communities they destroy.

Now with the landfill owners being threatened with massive litigation, they file for bankruptcy which stops any new litigation against them. Guy McCullough is leading the charge and running interference for the company. We wish him no success in that endeavor.

This is Perry County's problem courtesy of the Perry County Herald:
(notice how much he sounds like Bradley in what we have heard about the quarry proposed for Vincent)

CONTACT: Guy McCullough (205) 933-6676
Perry Uniontown Ventures I, LLC
And Perry County Associates, LLC
Petition Court to Reorganize
MOBILE, ALThe owners of Arrowhead Landfill, near Uniontown in Perry County, Alabama, have filed a voluntary petition with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Alabama to reorganize under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.
Jeffery J. Hartley, bankruptcy counsel for Perry Uniontown Ventures I, LLC (PUV) said today’s court filing was brought about when landfill operators Phillips and Jordan, Inc. and Phill-Con Services, LLC withheld monies they have received from the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) under a $95 million contract for the disposal of coal ash at the landfill owned by PUV. The two companies operate the landfill under an agency agreement with PUV. 

“Given Phillips and Jordan’s refusal to turn over monies to ownership, to
make payments they had agreed to make, or to provide a proper
accounting of the funds, PUV had no choice but to petition the court to seek
Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection while it reorganizes,” Mr. Hartley said.
Mr. Hartley said Phillips and Jordan has received more than sufficient funds
from the TVA contract to allow for the payment of ordinary expenses of the
facility, such as wages, taxes, county fees, insurance and payments on the
facility’s debt.

The Arrowhead Landfill, regarded as the most advanced of its kind in the
eastern U.S., will continue to operate safely and effectively, without
interruption, while the bankruptcy proceeding moves forward, Mr. Hartley

The Arrowhead Landfill is a 976.5-acre Subtitle D landfill, located 75 miles
west of Montgomery, Alabama. When TVA and EPA chose Arrowhead over
25 other sites, they cited—in part—the fact that “Arrowhead meets or
exceeds the most stringent protective disposal standards for municipal
solid waste landfills.”

The landfill was completed on time and on budget and landed the TVA
contract in the first year of real operations during tough economic
conditions. The facility has enjoyed a record of operational safety and
success throughout its history.

Arrowhead is served directly by the Norfolk Southern rail line. TVA and
EPA have each recognized that Arrowhead’s unique access to fast track
rail transport reduces the level of traffic congestion, air impact, and road
repair necessary to safely dispose of the coal ash.

The coal ash disposed of at Arrowhead has been reclaimed from a spill that
occurred on December 22, 2008 at the TVA’s Kingston Fossil Plant in
Roane County, Tennessee. It is transported directly from Kingston to
Arrowhead via a fast track of the Norfolk Southern rail way in specially
protected and sealed rail cars. More than 1,000,000 tons of ash have been
safely disposed of to date.

The state-of-the-art Arrowhead Landfill, which operates as a public-private
partnership, has resulted in an unprecedented economic boost for Perry
County, Alabama.

County Commissioner Albert Turner, Jr. has testified before Congress that
the resulting windfall has “transformed one of the poorest counties per
capita in Alabama to one of the more affluent counties in Alabama.”

Mr. Hartley said he expects PUV to quickly restructure the company for
long-term profitability and growth.

“The Arrowhead Landfill has all of the elements necessary to pay its
obligations, to be profitable and to ensure the safe disposal of coal ash
from the Kingston Plant. We are, therefore, confident that both PUV and
Arrowhead will be solid businesses going forward. In the meantime,
however, the facility will continue to operate safely and with the
extraordinary standard of excellence established throughout the facility’s
life,” Mr. Hartley said.
"Safety, extraordinary standard of excellence, meets or exceeds the most stringent protective disposal standards for municipal solid waste landfills, unprecedented economic boost...etc"

Unbelievable they can even use those words to describe what that dump has really done to Uniontown residents, but so familiar that type language is to Vincent residents....

Now for the real story:
Let's start with a quote from Artur Davis, a man who wants to be the next Governor of Alabama:
U.S. Rep. Artur Davis says he sympathizes with both the revenue-starved local officials and the coal industry.
“I am more than sympathetic that the storage of industrial waste is a job source in high unemployment counties like Perry and that the county will benefit from tax revenues generated by this storage,” Davis says.
“I am also mindful that the storage violates no current state or federal law,
and that a reclassification of coal ash as hazardous could pose significant burdens on coal-reliant industries.”
It's okay if they get sick as long as they have jobs and the big offenders don't get hit in their bottom lines Mr. Davis? Pick a side and get off the fence sir. Your job as an elected official is to represent your people faithfully, not the big donors to your campaign coffers that do not have the people's interests in mind.

That is very similar to what one of the proponents of the quarry in Vincent said about the Old Alabama Plating Company at Hwys. 60 & 231, that caused so many residents and even animals to get cancer; "It was a terrible place to work, but at least they had jobs."

The EPA spent 14,000,000.00 cleaning that mess up. But much like the Uniontown situation, ADEM did nothing to enforce compliance, neither did EPA Region 4.

From Radioaudio.net Thursday, April 8, 2010
Victims of toxic coal ash travel to D.C. on Monday, will make case for pending regulation with office of Obama “regulatory czar” Cass Sunstein

Frustrated residents being ignored, will urge White House officials to declare coal ash hazardous and stop holding up public health protections

Cleveland, Ohio, April 8 – Residents from Alabama
, Oklahoma, and Ohio will meet with staff of the White House Office of Information of Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) on Monday to discuss the pending regulations on coal ash. Tim Tanksley, Elisa Young, and John Wathen, represent three of seven individuals from communities across the country who joined together this week in a letter to President Obama’s “regulatory czar” Cass Sunstein, inviting him to meet about the proposed protections on coal ash.
All seven individuals had already sent personal letters to Sunstein, recounting their experiences with coal ash pollution in their communities, and asking him to come see for himself how it has poisoned drinking water, endangered people’s health, and caused home values to plummet. They say they have not yet received replies to their invitation for a visit.

"Coal ash is a dangerous substance that hurts individuals and devastates communities," said Rachael Belz of Ohio Citizen Action. "Since Mr. Sunstein did not respond to the invitations from the neighbors of the coal ash facilities, we will take our case directly to his office in Washington.”

While in town, the group would also like to meet with other congressional and regulatory leaders about regulating toxic coal ash.

Coal ash, an unregulated hazardous byproduct of burning coal, has been dumped into communities across America, contaminating groundwater and drinking water with toxic metals including arsenic, mercury, lead and boron.

Last October, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed new rules to regulate coal ash disposal, but the new protections have been stalled for over five months at the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, the office charged with reviewing them for the President, which Sunstein runs. Since his office received the proposed regulations on Oct. 16, 2009, Sunstein's staff has met with representatives of the coal and fly ash industries more than 20 times.
Sunstein has not made any public trips to see the real-life effects of coal ash on communities across America, despite the citizens’ requests.
The invitation to meet came from residents of Alabama, Indiana, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee. “Are you really hearing the whole story about coal ash?” the seven citizens asked in a letter to Sunstein on Monday. “From those of us who deal with coal ash in our daily lives, we do not think you are.”
Below are a few excerpts from the individual letters that citizens sent to Sunstein. Full text of the meeting request, and the previous letters inviting him to their home towns, are available on the Ohio Citizen Action website.
* Tim Tanksley, of Bokoshe, Oklahoma, wrote: “The fly ash is in our air and in our water; it is flowing into our creeks, streams, and eventually into the Arkansas River. Among the 20 households nearest the pit, there are at least 14 people with cancer.”
* John Wathen, of Uniontown Alabama, the community that has been receiving toxic coal ash from the cleanup of the 1.1 billion-gallon spill in December 2008 in Harriman, Tenn., wrote: "Trucks unload the ash within 200 feet away from people’s homes. They are also intentionally washing it off train cars and trucks into a stream... The landfill was pumping this toxic leachate over roads and down into public ditches at night.” John can also describe how some residents hang rags soaked in Pine-Sol in their windows just so that they can avoid the smell and get to sleep at night.
* Elisa Young, of Meigs County, Ohio wrote: "They have lined our kids’ running tracks with power plant waste, filled in roads with it along the Ohio River causing huge fish kills, and even made cattle feeders out of it.”

Ohio Citizen Action is 80,000 Ohioans who have joined together to prevent pollution. Non-profit and non-partisan, Ohio Citizen Action was founded in 1975. The organization’s website and more information about toxic coal ash can be found at http://www.ohiocitizen.org
Who else is profiting from Uniontown disaster ADEM:(also from the Perry County Herald)
What's the Deal with ADEM?
It's no secret: Perry County Commission has made around $1,000,000 in the months since coal ash shipments began coming to the Uniontown landfill facility. When all 3,000,000 or so tons of coal ash have been dredged from the Emory River in Tennessee and trucked to the local landfill, the county's general fund will see about $3,000,000 in extra revenue.
When confronted with concerns about the potential environmental impact of the coal ash on Perry County, commissioners have reminded citizens of this cash infusion's potential benefit to county finances. Testifying before Congress in December, Commissioner Albert Turner went as far as to say the host county fee has transformed Perry County from one of the poorest counties in Alabama to one of the wealthiest.
Alabama's Department of Environmental Management, though, hasn't been quite as vocal about a similar arrangement between that organization and landfill owners throughout the state. During Alabama's 2008 legislative session, the legislature passed a law requiring all municipal solid waste landfills to pay $1.00 to ADEM for each ton of solid waste disposed in Alabama landfills. That fee is part of the state's Recyclable Materials Management Act, which purports to fund community-based recycling programs throughout the state, along with providing operating funds to ADEM.

The state regulatory agency approved the coal ash deal in mid-2009, and began receiving payments shortly thereafter. Like Perry County Commission, ADEM has now made about $1,000,000 off of coal ash being dumped in Perry County, and stands to make at least $2,000,000 more.

Scott Hughes, an ADEM spokesman, said the money "allows [ADEM] to provide recycling grants to communities, to provide funds to clean up illegal dumps, and it provides funding for ADEM's Solid Waste division."

Hughes noted that county governments have always been allowed to charge a per-ton fee to landfills operating within their county, but the new law allows ADEM to benefit from the businesses as well. In addition to the per-ton fee ADEM now collects, it brings in revenue by granting permits to landfill operators, permits which have to be renewed every five years.
Some in the conservation movement, however, are uneasy about the financial relationship between ADEM and such businesses.

In a video statement last year, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. of the National Waterkeeper Alliance said the failure of state government, particularly of ADEM, was "the number one problem in the state of Alabama." He went on to call ADEM "one of the worst environmental agencies in the United States."

Kennedy said ADEM was a prime example of a "captive agency," that is, a government agency that has become indebted to the very groups it is supposed to police, with "the biggest polluters in the state dictating policy."

Hurricane Creekkeeper John Wathen has advocated for Perry County citizens who say their quality of life has suffered due to the landfill, particularly the coal ash being disposed of there. He echoed Kennedy's feelings on the matter.

"This is just one more symptom of how ADEM has failed the entire state," Wathen said Tuesday. "I would like to ask ADEM one thing. I would like to know why the people in Swan Pond, Tennessee [where the Emory River disaster occurred] are more important than the people in Perry County, Alabama."

He has criticized ADEM for being slow to respond to citizen complaints of illegal activity at the Uniontown landfill. In particular, Wathen says he is concerned about the allegation that landfill owners, faced with an overabundance of landfill leachate after recent heavy rains, have been illegally pumping the sludge onto the ground on undeveloped parts of the landfill property. Wathen took photos he said proved those allegations and submitted them to ADEM, calling on them to investigate. When, nearly a month later, investigators visited the site, they returned with a report of no violations.

In an email to the federal Environmental Protection Agency's director Lisa Jackson, Wathen says the leachate discharges have contaminated residential property near the landfill and deprived the public of the use of parts Chilatchee Creek, whose headwaters he says have also been contaminated by the leachate pumping.

"It is my opinion that ADEM intentionally delayed the inspection," Wathen told Jackson, "to allow PCA-Arrowhead personnel to install the new silt fencing photographed by ADEM inspector Janna McIndoe." Wathen is referring to fencing installed in ditches on the landfill property to stop solid particle flow but allow water to pass through. "To me," he continued, "It seems very suspicious that after 18 days delay, new fences were photographed by ADEM and in every photo prior there are no such fences, old or new."

ADEM's report on the complaint chalks the complaints up to landfill operators pumping storm water off the site.

"It is anything but storm-water being intentionally pumped into the roadside ditches," Wathen told Jackson. "It is in my opinion an intentional and illicit discharge of toxic mater from an ADEM permitted site. I was there and saw, sampled, smelled, and photographed this material when there had been no rain." He said he ran tests on the liquid and found higher than acceptable levels of arsenic and other contaminants. The pumping, according to residents living near the landfill, happens late at night to avoid detection.

Wathen says he is also concerned about a deficit in the landfill's assurance bond. This bond, which landfill owners are required pay into throughout the life of a landfill, exists to provide funds to safely maintain and reclaim a landfill site once it closes. According to ADEM's website, PCA owes over $1.6 million in assurance bond payments. The agency had been allowing PCA to make only partial payments on the bond. ADEM's estimated cost of reclamation of the landfill site for the purpose of the assurance bond is $3.5 million.
Friends of Hurricane Creek, of which Wathen is a member, is one of 14 environmental agencies across the state petitioning EPA to take over ADEM's regulatory authority in the state. They submitted a petition to EPA last month claiming ADEM was incapable of enforcing water pollution regulations.
At that time, Wathen said his and other groups had been "very diligent" in documenting pollution violations throughout the state, and the agency had made "no effort to enforce even the most basic regulations."
ADEM is allowing only partial payments on the bond, someone ask Marsh Acker of the Vincent Zoning Board if he is listening since this is an issue he keeps spouting off about in reference to the proposed WRQ Vincent Hills quarry.

If something of this magnitude can happen to Uniontown, what chance do we stand in Vincent if this quarry gets in and sinkholes start opening up under the large, pressurized Colonial pipeline, the gas lines, the RR that carries toxic chemicals through downtown Vincent everyday?

We make the evening news and national papers and the Vincent and Shelby County officials can explain it away saying that "at least we had jobs and revenue for the county and community" just like all involved with the tragedy in Uniontown seem to be doing.

Including Artur Davis which we expected much more from. Think about his words to the Uniontown residents come election day. 

Bradley Byrne is being bought by Stephen Bradley, along with his unsavory lobbying friends like Geddie and all the PACs they are both involved in.
(Might help explain why only his election material has been in the Vincent officials papers at CC meetings. Mr Bradley made sure they were put there.)

We have elected these officials in Vincent to represent us, the people. They have been anything but representative people's government and taken Bradley, Fowler and WRQs side against us at every turn for the promise of money, with no regard to the credible concerns we have. The Perry County Commission president Albert Turner, Jr. has done exactly the same thing to the citizens of Perry County with coal ash from the TVA Kingston Spill. 

ADEM and EPA Region 4 condone these egregious actions of environmental injustice because they are profit machines for state coffers.

This is why people need to be so well informed about what is going on around them in other communities, not just in their own backyards. The same clique of bad actors are usually involved in controversial environmental issues all over the state. We need to really examine candidates before we cast our votes and not take the responsibility lightly, especially in the land of cotton, quarries, corruption and coal ash.

1 comment:

  1. Racism will never die in the South I fear...if it isn't historic racism it comes in the form of environmental racism.
    There seems to be no end to the ways that Alabama can come up with to perpetuate this horrible crime against humanity.


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