Almost every day, a train pulls into a rail yard in rural Alabama, hauling 8,500 tons of a disaster that occurred 350 miles away to a final resting place, the Arrowhead Landfill here in Perry County, which is very poor and almost 70 percent black.
This ‘windfall’ of dumping all this dangerous coal ash in their landfill will “add more than $3 million to their County’s budget of about $4.5 million” the article goes on to say. This little Alabama county has an unemployment rate of 17 percent and only a chosen few really were able to get any work from this so called ‘windfall’ for the County.
Some of us here in Dendron, Virginia, in Surry County, where ODEC proposes to build a 1,500 MW coal fired power plant with a coal ash/fly ash landfill in our little town’s back yard have been wondering the same thing some of Perry County residents have been wondering:
But some residents worry that their leaders are taking a short-term view, and that their community has been too easily persuaded to take on a wealthier, whiter community’s problem. “Money ain’t worth everything,” said Mary Gibson Holley, 74, a black retired teacher in Uniontown. “In the long run, they ain’t looking about what this could do to the community if something goes wrong.”
And in just one of many parallels between the thinking in Perry County Alabama, and here in Surry County:
County leaders, who are mostly black, bristle at accusations of environmental injustice, saying that the ash is perfectly safe and that criticism has been fostered by outsiders, or even competitors who wanted the ash disposal contract for themselves.
But in Perry County, a lack of trust has permeated the debate. Residents said they feared equipment failure, flooding, tornadoes or lack of oversight at the landfill, where the Alabama Department of Environmental Management, whose notably lax regulation of coal ash permits most landfills to use it as a cover material for other waste, will be responsible for enforcement.
Curiouser and curiouser.
One of the major differences is the distance to the water table in Perry County and here in Dendron in Surry County. Here in Dendron, that water table is only about 4 feet (and many are still on their own wells in the surrounding area of the County), and wetlands are on at least two sides of the proposed site within contamination distance to the Blackwater River system that flows to the Albemerle Sound, NC:
The Blackwater River was a transportation route in the 17th and 18th centuries, connecting the Chesapeake Bay settlements with the Albemarle Settlements. It was one of the few rivers of colonial Virginia that did not empty into Chesapeake Bay yet lay close to the colony’s oldest settlements on the James River. Settlements in the Blackwater’s drainage basin were founded very early in Virginia’s history. As a result, the Blackwater River became one of the early migration routes southward from the James River into the region then called Southside Virginia, and beyond into the Albemarle District of Carolina (later North Carolina). Today’s usual definition of Southside differs somewhat from that of colonial times.
Of course, ODEC wants to build a 15 mile pipeline directly to the James River for ingress and egress of water for cooling.
One of the other major differences between Perry County and here in Dendron is the railroad cars. The railroad cars here in Dendron will bring in the coal to ‘make’ the coal ash to be stored in the landfill and when that gets full, to find some place to take the coal ash off their hands, like Perry County, or golf greens in other Counties, or maybe put it in concrete to build things all over the place.
Must read article.