EPA Dismisses Civil Rights Case Over Toxic Landfill in Alabama

The Environmental Protection Agency has dismissed a civil rights lawsuit filed by residents of a predominately African American city in Alabama who say a local landfill filled with four metric tons of coal ash has been making people sick. In the 28-page dismissal letter, the EPA claimed that there was “insufficient evidence” that Alabama officials were violating the Civil Rights Act by permitting Arrowhead Landfill to operate in Uniontown, and also dismissed another claim alleging the “landfill operator retaliated against disgruntled residents.” Advocates have framed the EPA’s reaction to the case as environmental racism. The landfill is twice the size of Central Park, and accepts waste from 33 states. Coal ash contains “mercury and arsenic that can affect the nervous and reproductive systems” and those living within a mile radius of coal ash storage ponds have a “one and 50” chance of developing cancer, according to the EPA. While no studies have been conducted to confirm a link between the Uniontown landfill and potential health risks, residents have reported “nosebleeds, breathing difficulties, mental health issues and cancers." The EPA claimed that there was “no causal connection” between the landfill and the health concerns.