Something is very wrong in the Land of Cotton



Dr. Robert Bullard
Environmental Justice Movement Founder

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

BARDs "Big Mule" Drummond Coal Sued in the Name of "Filthy Lucre" By N. Bham, Alabama Residents

*Click title for full PDF case file

Tenth Judicial Circuit Court
Jefferson County, Alabama

Causes of Action:
Count I-Negligence
Count II-Wantonness
Count III-Negligence Per Se
Count IV-Fraud
Count V-Public Nuisance
Count VI-Private Nuisance
Count VII- Trespass

Filthy Lucre--This little phrase can't be explained without looking at the word lucre. From the 14th century lucre has meant money and is referred to as such by no less writers than Chaucer and John Wyclif. These references generally included a negative connotation and gave rise to the terms "foul lucre" and "filthy lucre", which have been in use since the 16th century. "Filthy lucre" appears first in print in 1526 in the works of William Tindale:
"Teachinge thinges which they ought not, because of filthy lucre."
Tindale was using the term to mean dishonorable gain. 
Residents of North Birmingham and a nearby area, Tarrant, Alabama, have filed suit against ABC Coke Drummond Company alleging their cancers, blood diseases and respiratory diseases are the result of toxic chemicals released by Drummond's coke ovens.

All seven of the plaintiff's in this recent filing have cancer, two of those also have blood diseases and four of the seven report respiratory diseases in addition to their cancers. This filing adds to the long list of litigants against Drummond which now has as least 1500 plaintiffs.

The Summary Statement in this case speaks volumes:

This action concerns a gross injustice committed in the name of filthy lucre--for the sake of profit. Drummond Company, Inc. and the Fictitious Defendants spewed millions of tons of Toxicants and Noxious Odors into the North Birmingham Community and portions of the City of Tarrant, in violation of state and federal laws.

The North Birmingham Community was once the site of the Hawkins Plantation, and, as such, has always been populated by African-Americans. Similarly, the City of Tarrant was once the site of the Merriweather Farm, and has long been populated by African-Americans. Unfortunately, as a result of the actions of the Drummond Company, Inc. and the Fictitious Defendants, the hardships and abuses endured by the African-American slaves on the Hawkins Plantation continue in spirit to this very day, for the predominately African-American citizens who populate the North Birmingham Community and portions of the City of Tarrant remain the victims of social and environmental injustice. Callously disregarding the well-being of those citizens, and placing profit above everything else, Drummond Company, Inc. and the Fictitious Defendants have caused their Coke Ovens to spew millions of tons of Toxicants into the North Birmingham Community and portions of the City of Tarrant, in violation of state and federal laws governing those Toxicants.

As a result of their actions, Drummond Company, Inc. and the Fictitious Defendants have transmogrified the North Birmingham Community, a community once described as Birmingham's "prettiest suburb" with "healthful water...beautiful scenery...and pure air," and portions of the City of Tarrant, an equally pristine community on which six crystal clear streams once flowed, into cesspools of industrial waste. Indeed, even today Drummond Company, Inc. and the Fictitious Defendants Coke Ovens continue to emit Toxicants in amounts prohibited by law and in amounts that Drummond Company, Inc. and the Fictitious Defendants officers and directors would never tolerate in their own communities, for the emissions have caused, and continue to this very day to cause, Noxious Odors twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Drummond Company, Inc. and the Fictitious Defendants greed, wantonness and negligence have visited upon two peaceful communities, the North Birmingham Community and portions of the City of Tarrant, an overwhelming plague of death and disease, property damage and suffering.

The Plaintiffs, all present or past residents of the North Birmingham Community and the City of Tarrant, bring this lawsuit seeking a measure of justice, including compensation for their loses and justly deserved punishment for Drummond Company, Inc. and the Fictitious Defendants.
(end of SS page 2 Caygle V. Drummond Company, Inc.)

On Page 4 Item E the Plaintiff's assert that Drummond Co. and its "alter egos" i.e. "fictitious defendants" willfully conspired to emit and then cover up the amount of toxins being released by their facility:

E. One or more of the Fictitious Defendants (the "Conspirator Defendants") conspired (a) to release Toxicants from the Coke Ovens in quantities and in a manner in violation of law; (b) to cover up and/or to conceal the fact that the Toxicants had been and were being released from the Coke Ovens and/or (c) to evade liability for damage caused by the Toxicants and Noxious Odors by corporate restructuring and/or reorganizing. The term "Conspirator Defendant" may therefore include any officer, director, shareholder, or attorney who participated in the said conspiracy and who may, after discovery in this natter, be substituted for one of the Fictitious Defendants.
(end of Parties The Defendants page 4 Caygle V. Drummond Company, Inc.)

The chemicals released during the process of treating coal and converting it into coke are highly toxic and many of them are known dangerous carcinogens such as: PCDs/Furans, TCDDs, CDFs, PCBs and VOCs a group that includes benzene, toluene and xylene. Readers may Google any of those acronyms for a more in-depth study into what their health effects are.

The above linked article from the *Birmingham Business Journal states that:
The Environmental Protection Agency Region 4 announced earlier this month it would monitor the air quality outside four Birmingham schools to evaluate long-term exposure to air pollutants – part of a program to monitor outside air at 63 schools in 22 states. Three of the four local schools are in the North Birmingham and Tarrant area.
Media reports said the EPA’s initial findings showed the chemicals it was most concerned about – arsenic, benzene, benzo(a)pyrene and lead – were below levels of short-term concern in the air around the local schools. The study will continue throughout October and November. *(1500 plaintiff's)
However, in a March 17, 2010 study by the University of Massachusetts Amherst, University of Maryland in College Park and John Hopkins University in Baltimore published by USA Today entitled "The Smokestack Effect" Toxic Schools which monitored the air of almost 128,000 schools around the country in 2009, the schools in the Tarrant area along with others near the Drummond Plant rank among the worst in the nation for toxic exposure.(link)

One example: Tarrant Alternative School, Top Polluter Drummond ABC Coke:

Schools affected most by company

Sources: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Why are EPA Region 4's test results startlingly different from this study? Region 4 has the reputation for being "the weakest arm of the federal agency and being more or less openly in league with the big polluters" which may help explain the discrepancy.

As we reported on previously, Region 4 also "closed the books" on five recent egregious environmental injustice cases mostly on technicalities and were admonished by the EPA's OIG for not having suitable environmental justice protocols in place despite being told to do so more than once.

Rumors have long been whispered that the immense wealth and power of Drummond and BARD have influenced these agencies to take a hands-off approach to environmental violations. We are clarifying that those are only rumors and do not imply there is any truth to them, whatever happens with these lawsuits is for the court to decide.

But the disparity between the study results and Region 4's conclusions are enough to raise valid questions, that deserve some answers, and further investigation of the "smokestack effects" emanating from Tarrant and Drummond Company, Inc.

End of Part I
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  1. Drummond's money is liberally doused on Alabama's politicians and Washington. Our fine state politicians are the worst that money can buy, dirty money, dirty deals..it's all one big cesspool of corruption and that's just the way Alabama's big mules like it.

  2. A dirty dealer of a coal company they are, they tried to bust the unions in Alabama and when they didn't get their way they picked up and moved to Colombia where they could impose their wishes on the unions. With deadly results. The kids of the slain Union men are still after them in court, but they got off in Alabama's legal system, go figure.


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