CBS 42 continues to be the leader in following and reporting on the North Birmingham Walter Energy toxic contamination story.
Monthly meetings are being held with the affected residents in conjunction with the EPA, Jefferson County Dept. of Health (JCDH) and Walter Energy in an attempt to better inform the community. Indicators are that attempt is failing miserably on all levels--mistrust is now running higher than ever and frustration seems to be increasing among the residents with each successive meeting.
It's a notable and ominous statistic that 7-8 additional funerals have occurred since the last monthly meeting.
Walter Energy continues to maintain its innocence and claim they have no part in the contamination, despite being ordered by the EPA to remediate the contaminated areas in these neighborhoods. Walter's version of it is that they are cleaning up out of the goodness of their big business hearts.
What's happening to this area of North Birmingham is an environmental crime of serious proportions that appears to have no good end in sight. Adding fuel to the fire is a spokesman with the JCDH who speaks to these frightened and worried residents in technical and departmental jargon that they cannot understand. Our opinion is that this is not a miscommunication as much as it is a by design attempt to buffalo these people with technical verbal confusion.
That kind of talking over your audience sleight of tongue should end with this last meeting and not be repeated again. It's disingenuous and insulting at best and a blatant attempt to distract and deflect at worst. These are real human beings with real lives who are dying in alarming numbers from elevated cancer incidents in this area. They deserve a lot more respect than they are getting from the authority and corporate figures involved in this preventable tragedy.Part of the problem is that some of the answers are not simple, as when the Jefferson County Department of Health tried to explain the process by which it measures contamination. The residents say the explanations are too complex.“As far as I’m concerned, you have just wasted 30 minutes of my time. I have no earthly idea what you're talking about," says Jimmie Smith, who lives in Collegeville.The confusion has led to mistrust.Some feel the company is just putting them off, while contamination continues and they fear the resulting disease is killing them.“It's where, well, we'll tell these black people we'll do it next month and the next month and by then they'll probably be dead," says a resident of North Birmingham.
CBS 42, Sherri Jackson and Ken Lass should be roundly applauded for staying on this story.
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