ADEM holds hearing on revised Chem Waste permit for hazardous waste at Emelle, AL; more questions than answers

By: John Zippert, Co-Publisher


The Alabama Department of Environmental Management held a public hearing on Thursday, January 11, 2018, in Livingston, Alabama on a five year permit renewal for Chemical Waste Management to operate a 2,700 acre hazardous waste landfill, near Emelle in northern Sumter County.
The permit renewal, which has 7,611 pages of technical information, was submitted to ADEM as part of its routine permit renewal process.

Chris Sasser from ADEM conducted the hearing, which was to give local residents from Sumter and surrounding counties an opportunity to comment and raise questions on the permit and regulatory process.
The Chemical Waste Management hazardous waste landfill at Emelle, which was originally permitted in the 1970’s, takes advantage of burying these highly toxic chemicals in 100-foot deep, plastic lined pits in the Selma Chalk (lime-rock) formations found in Sumter County.
The hazardous waste facility lies above the Eutaw Aquifer, which runs hundreds of feet below the facility. The Eutaw Aquifer is a drinking water source for communities from Sumter County across the state to Montgomery. One of the initial and continuing concerns about the facility was its safety in preventing contamination of surface and underground water flowing in, near or under the facility.
The new permit application submitted by Chem Waste proposes the abandoning of a set of wells that “gauge the geological soundness on the Selma Chalk formation in relation to the safety and security of the hazardous waste facility”. Chem Waste proposes to maintain over 50 water wells that monitor ground water and ground water runoff within and around the hazardous waste facility.
Another historical concern has been one of environmental justice with the citing of this major hazardous waste dump in Sumter County, a county in the Alabama Black Belt with a 70% Black population and statistical indicators of persistent poverty of this population.
About one hundred residents from Sumter and surrounding counties attended the hearing. Sasser opened the hearing with a statement that ADEM had come to listen and record the comments and questions of the residents affected by Chem Waste in making its determination on the permit renewal. Questions would not be answered at the hearing but in the ADEM’s final written determination on the permit renewal. At the end of the hearing, Sasser said the record would be held open until January 31,2018 for additional written comments.
Sasser called upon Mike Davis, a spokesperson for Chem Waste would gave a brief statement in support of the permit renewal application. He said he had been connected with Chem Waste for the past 38 years and was basically in charge of the Emelle facility since 2007. Davis said, “we are asking to close certain geologic monitoring wells but we plan to maintain over 50 ground water monitoring wells. We feel a deep responsibility to Sumter County residents for the safety of the facility and for its ability to provide employment and tax revenues to the county.”
Sasser then called on public officer holders to comment. Drussila Jackson, Sumter County Commissioner from District One, who is African-American and in whose district the facility is located. “I am very concerned about the extension of this permit and the abandonment of monitoring wells, since I live in Panola, a rural town in close proximity to the CWM facility, and drink water that is affected by the facility,” said Jackson. She said she had to push ADEM to hold this hearing and was not sure that ADEM was sufficiently concerned about the people in her district who live near the hem Waste facility.
Mayor Tom Tartt of Livingston spoke and praised the “wonderful partnership between Sumter County and CWM” that provided employment and tax revenues for the people of Livingston and Sumter County. Tartt said, “I trust Chem Waste, EPA, and ADEM to protect the citizens of Sumter County. The City of Livingston draws its municipal water from wells and I feel our water is safe.”
Several Sumter County landowners and citizens spoke. Charles and Linda Munoz noted that they had difficulty in downloading the permit and told anecdotes about the dangers of hazardous wastes to drinking water. “This facility is built on an earthquake fault line, so an earthquake could be a grave problem,” said Linda Munoz.
Terry Rosswell, a farmer who owns land close to the CWM facility said, “There are chemicals out there, dioxins, PCB’s and others that they promised not to bring. Bulldozers are running over and crushing barrels. There are real problems with the operation that ADEM needs to address before granting this permit.”
Steve Boyd, another adjoining land owner, showed two file drawer boxes that he filled with the copies of the 7,611 page permit application, which he said he had to go to ADEM’s offices in Montgomery to get. He asked that a copy of the permit application be sent to a place in Sumter County, where it would be convenient for local people, especially poor people and the elderly to review it. Boyd also warned, “That there had been a 2.4 degree earthquake in Sumter County, as recently as August 24, 2017, so earthquakes are possible and they may get stronger.”
Johnny Aycock, speaking on behalf of the University of West Alabama said that the Chem Waste Landfill was a boon to employment and economic development in west Alabama. “ On behalf of UWA, I feel CWM is honest and concerned about the safety of the people of this area, so we support approval of this permit,” he said.
Pierce Boyd, another adjoining landowner said that he had always felt “disrespected” by the owners and management of Chem Waste. ADEM has given CWM 265 waivers of environmental regulations since the facility was first permitted but has not explained its actions to the people of Sumter County. Boyd said, “ I was unable to download the 7,611 pages of the permit. My Internet service would not allow me to download such a large document. I have mined Selma Chalk for agricultural lime. I have found prehistoric fossils on the land where Chem Waste is located. The continued study of the geology of the place is very important and necessary for our safety.”
Kaye Kiker, a native of York, who now lives in north Alabama, who led early fights against CWM, said, “ Wendell Paris and I went out there when Chem Waste started and saw employees whose shoes were melting, as they handled the hazardous waste. They did not have protective suits or gas masks. We had to protest and agitate to get EPA, ADEM and others to pay attention.”
Kiker said, “ADEM is the least staffed agency in state government. We need more people to monitor environmental issues. There is a need for ADEM to have an on-site inspector to prevent illegal materials from coming to the site. A cancer registry is needed to monitor deaths in the area. Protection and warning of earthquakes is needed. I am not sure the permit really is protecting the people of Sumter County.”
Dr. Marcus Bernard, Director of the Federation’s Rural Training Center in Epes a neighbor to CWM said, “ I am concerned about the problems of toxic exposure by predominantly African-American population in Sumter and surrounding counties. ADEM we need assurance that you are doing everything you can to protect us.”
At the close of the hearing, Chris Sasser advised people to send their comments to ADEM or email them to:

Greene County Health Systems receives $47,125 in bingo funds for December


Bingo Distribution.jpg

Shown above: Brenda Burke representing the County Commission, Boligee Councilwoman Earnestine Wade, Greene County Board of Education, CSFO Katrina Sewell, Assist Chief Walter Beck, Kinya Isaac Turner representing the Town of Forkland; Bingo Clerks Minnie Byrd and Emma Jackson; Mayor of Union James Gaines; seated Greene County Health System CEO Dr. Marcia Pugh and Sheriff Jonathan Benison

On Friday, January 12, 2018, Greene County Sheriff Department distributed $ 374,905 in monthly bingo allocations from the five licensed gaming operations in the county. The recipients of the monthly distributions from bingo gaming designated by Sheriff Benison in his Bingo Rules and Regulations include the Greene County Commission, the Greene County Sheriff’s Department, the cities of Eutaw, Forkland, Union, Boligee, the Greene County Board of Education and the Greene County Hospital (Health System).
The following assessments are for the month of December 2017.
Greenetrack, Inc. gave a total of $67,500 to the following: Greene County Commission, $24,000; Greene County Sheriff’s Department, $9,000; City of Eutaw, $4,500; and the Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $3,000; Greene County Board of Education, $13,500 and the Greene County Health System, $7,500.

Green Charity (Center for Rural Family Development) gave a total of $67,500 to the following: Greene County Commission, $24,000; Greene County Sheriff’s Department, $9,000; City of Eutaw, $4,500; and the Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $3,000; Greene County Board of Education, $13,500, the Greene County Health System, $7,500.
Frontier (Dream, Inc.) gave a total of $67,500 to the following: Greene County Commission, $24,000; Greene County Sheriff’s Department, $9,000; City of Eutaw, $4,500; and the Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $3,000; Greene County Board of Education, $13,500, Greene County Health System, $7,500.
River’s Edge (NNL – Next Level Leaders and TCCTP – Tishabee Community Center Tutorial Program) gave a total of $73,075 to the following: Greene County Commission, $24,000; Greene County Sheriff’s Department, $9,000; City of Eutaw, $4,500; and the Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $3,000; Greene County Board of Education, $13,500, and the Greene County Health System, $13,075.
Palace (Tommy Summerville Police Support League) gave a total of $99,330 to the following: Greene County Commission, $4,620; Greene County Sheriff’s Department, $36,960; City of Eutaw, $27,720; and the Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $4,620; Greene County Board of Education, $4,620 and the Greene County Health System, $11,550.


Newswire : Black Republican House member says Trump ‘must apologize’ for ‘sh*thole’ remarks

By Hazel Trice Edney



Rep. Mia Love (R-Utah)
( – President Donald Trump, who has constantly denied being a racist, is now embroiled in a growing controversy after he referred to African countries, Haiti and El Salvador as “sh*thole countries” and asked why America can’t draw more immigrants from places like “Norway”, a predominately White country.
The remarks made Jan. 11 during a bi-partisan Whitehouse meeting on immigration policies, has set off a fire storm of criticism from both sides of the aisles, including from the only Haitian-American in Congress, Republican Rep. Mia Love (Utah), who has demanded an apology.
“The president’s comments are unkind, divisive, elitist, and fly in the face of our nation’s values. This behavior is unacceptable from the leader of our nation. My parents came from one of those countries but proudly took an oath of allegiance to the United States and took on the responsibilities of everything that being a citizen comes with,” Rep. Love wrote in a tweet Jan. 11. “They never took a thing from our federal government. They worked hard, paid taxes, and rose from nothing to take care of and provide opportunities for their children. They taught their children to do the same. That’s the American Dream. The President must apologize to both the American people and the nations he so wantonly maligned.”
The White House initially issued a statement not denying the comments, but saying that Trump, “will always fight for the American people.”
The White House Statement continued, “Like other nations that have merit-based immigration, President Trump is fighting for permanent solutions that make our country stronger by welcoming those who can contribute to our society grow our economy and assimilate into our great nation.”
“Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who were in the meeting, confirmed the ‘sh*thole’ account though others in the room claimed they did not hear it, denied that he said it, or that he used the term ‘sh*thouse’ countries.
As the firestorm reaction grew to reports of his crude remarks, Trump then denied having made them. But given the president’s reputation for lying, his reputation for making racist remarks and given the credible witnesses and reports, the outrage continued to rise this week during a time of celebration of the Martin Luther King Day holiday. The following are excerpts from some of the statements:
Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Cedric Richmond (D-La.): “President Trump’s comments are yet another confirmation of his racially insensitive and ignorant views. It also reinforces the concerns that we hear every day, that the President’s slogan Make America Great Again is really code for Make America White Again.”
Richmond continued, “All of the reservations we have had about negotiating with him on immigration are well-founded. President Trump is clearly more concerned with ending the future flow of immigrants from Africa and the African diaspora than providing relief to Dreamers who came here through no fault of their own. Unfortunately, there is no reason to believe that we can negotiate in good faith with a person who holds such vile and reprehensible beliefs.”
The National Bar Association President Juan R. Thomas: “The NBA calls upon all members of Congress to openly reject Trump’s politics of racism.”
NAACP President/CEO Derrick Johnson: “Yesterday, the raw racism of Donald Trump and those driving his immigration and other policy making decisions were on full display as he called for fewer Black people to be admitted into the United States in favor of white immigrants. And this morning, the President doubled down on his comments offering a weak justification for his racist viewpoint.”
National President, National Congress of Black Women: Dr. E. Faye Williams: “These derisive comments are dramatically similar to those made in December when #45 said, Haitians “All have A.I.D.S” and that once Nigerian immigrants saw the United States they would never “go back to their huts.” Sadly, it is apparent that the judgments and decisions made by this man are informed by fundamental racism — a racism that’s as likely to moderate as is the likelihood of the Sun rising in the west and setting in the east.
”Whatever one thinks of #45, no one should feign surprise with the progressively egregious and insulting nature of his comments and conduct. From the opening remarks of his campaign, upon which he based insults directed at Hispanic immigrants, through his “Good” Nazi Charlottesville comments to his most recent, #45 has never tried to disguise his true nature to those listening in earnest,” says Williams.
She concludes that despite the calls from Rep. Love for an apology, no such thing will be forthcoming. “He has never apologized, and most likely will never do so.”

Newswire : Pastor blasts Trump’s ‘Shithole’ comments in front of Mike Pence

By Nina Golgowski, Huffington Post

Vice President Mike Pence reportedly got an earful at church on Sunday, when a pastor blasted President Donald Trump’s reported disparagement of Haiti and African countries.
Pence and his wife, Karen, were guests at the Metropolitan Baptist Church, a historically black church in Largo, Maryland. The church’s pastor, Maurice Watson, told his congregation that he felt “led by God” to speak out against the president’s comments, which he called “dehumanizing” and “ugly.”
Pastor Maurice Watson of the Metropolitan Baptist Church in Largo, Maryland, spoke out against comments that Donald Trump allegedly made against Haitians and Africans this week.
Trump reportedly told lawmakers last Thursday that he preferred immigrants from places like Norway instead of “shithole countries” like Haiti and nations in Africa ― remarks the president has subsequently denied.
Watson noted that many of his congregants come from Haiti and Africa. “I stand today as your pastor to vehemently denounce and reject any such characterizations of the nations of Africa and of our brothers and sisters in Haiti,” Watson said as the audience stood and clapped, according to a video posted to the church’s Facebook page.
“And I further say: Whoever made such a statement, whoever used such a visceral, disrespectful, dehumanizing adjective to characterize the nations of Africa, whoever said it, is wrong. And they ought to be held accountable.”
Local station WUSA-TV reported that Pence was red-faced during the sermon. The vice president’s office disputed that description to The Associated Press on Monday.

County will sell surplus land to WestRock; addresses redistricting in Greene County


Greene County Commission shown with two new vehicles for the County Highway Department. The vehicles are two 2018 F150 Crew Cabs 4×4 at purchase price of $28,650 each. Shown L to R: Commissioners Michael Williams, Tennyson Smith, Allen Turner, Jr.,and Lester Brown; County Engineer Willie Branch and Assistant Engineer John Ensley.

At its regular meeting held Jan. 8, 2018, the Greene County Commission agreed to sell a portion of surplus land to WestRock box plant in Eutaw. The commission is asking $30.000 for approximately 2.7 acres of land adjacent to the current WestRock property on Finches Ferry Road in Eutaw.
In an original plan, the County Commission deeded that parcel of land to the Greene County Industrial Board with the understanding that the IDA would lease the property to West Rock. Subsequently, West Rock determined that it was interested in purchasing same property to accommodate its expansion plans. The county’s plan to sell the property to West Rock will proceed once the IDA transfers the deed back to the county.
The commission voted to approve the County Registrars duties regarding the state’s redistricting and voter reassignment process for areas and voters affected by the new state legislative district lines. District lines are redrawn every 10 years following completion of the United States Census. The Alabama State Legislature is responsible for drawing both congressional and state legislative district lines.
On May 24, 2012, the Republican-controlled legislature approved state legislative redistricting maps. Maps for both chambers were passed during a special session. It next went to Gov. Robert Bentley (R) for his signature, then to the U.S. Department of Justice for preclearance. The Justice Department cleared the state legislative maps on October 5, 2012. Various statewide organizations challenged the state’s redistricting lines up to the U.S. Supreme Court, but were unsuccessful.
According to the current legislative map, Greene County will fall in two State House Districts: D 71, Northwestern part of the county, (Rep. Artis McCampbell) and D 72, all other areas of the county (Rep. Ralph Howard). Greene County falls in only one State Senate District, D 24 (Senator Bobby Singleton).
Alabama’s House of Representatives is made up of 105 districts; Alabama’s State Senate is made up of 35 districts.
In other business the commission approved the following:
* Filling two employee positions in the Highway Department
* Accepting the resignation of one equipment operator and authorizing advertising to fill the position of Equipment operator.
* Travel request for employees as specified.
The Commission approved the various Committee Chair appointments as follows:
* Finance and Public Safety, Commissioner Tennyson Smith.
* Public Works and Health, Commissioner Michael Williams.
* Education and Social Concerns, Commissioner Lester Brown.
* Jobs and Industries, Commissioner Allen Turner, Jr.
* Personnel, Commissioner Corey Cockrell.
CFO, Paula Bird provided the following financial summaries as of December 17, 2017.
Total funds in Citizen Trust Bank was $2,476,161.54; total funds in Merchants & Farmers Bank was $1,961,067.02. Bond investments totaled $800,989.79, Bank of New holds $358,718.17

Newswire : South African War on Corruption moves into high gear


Protest in South Africa

( – A shakeup in the African National Party has boosted hopes that new party officials will make a clean sweep of the backroom dealings that have made millionaires out of a small South African elite and punished the majority with high unemployment and a national credit rating downgraded to “junk status.”
Business tycoon Cyril Ramaphosa, newly elected president of the African National Congress, has raised hopes that he will stamp out corruption, expedite job creation, improve the lackluster economy and speed up the transfer of land to black people.
“Corruption must be fought with the same intensity and purpose that we fight poverty, unemployment and inequality,” Ramaphosa declared in his maiden speech after his election. “We must also act fearlessly against alleged corruption and abuse of office within our ranks.”
“We must investigate without fear or favor the so-called ‘accounting irregularities’ that caused turmoil in the markets and wiped billions off the investments of ordinary South Africans,” he said.
Ramaphosa was echoing the frustration of South African citizens who turned out in the thousands this fall to march in anti-corruption protests in major cities around the country with blame often laid at the feet of the President.
“Things are just going down under President (Jacob) Zuma,” textile worker Florence Titus told Reuters. “He needs to play a president’s role not just be there to fill his pockets and his family’s pockets. He must step down.”
Efforts to recover several billion rands diverted “into the hands of unproductive and corrupt elites” are not, however, waiting for the new administration. Last month, a 151 page application with thousands of attachments was submitted to the North Gauteng High Court suing the President, his son, and 71 others, demanding a criminal investigation and the recovery of billions of dollars within 20 days of the order.
The foundation of Helen Suzman, an anti-apartheid activist who died in 2009, was one of the filers of the suit.
In a related development, South Africa’s top court ruled last week that Parliament failed to hold President Zuma accountable over his use of state funds to upgrade his private home. The court’s ruling could trigger impeachment proceedings.

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Kwanzaa celebration honors family and community values

The Greene County community held its annual Kwanzaa celebration on Thursday, December 28, 2017 at the Eutaw Activity Center. The key sponsor of the program was the Harambe Chapter of 21st Century Youth Leadership Movement, assisted by the Greene County Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. Kwanzaa is an end of year thanksgiving event which brings the community together to lift the blessings of the ending year and to pledge and dedicate themselves toward working together to build a better community for everyone.
Kwanzaa is a harvest celebration honoring the culture and heritage of African Americans. The seven day observance begins December 26 through January 1. Kwanzaa was founded by Dr. Maulana Karenga at the time of the Watts Riots in California in the 1960’s. Dr. Karenga was seeking a positive approach for rebuilding communities and celebrating African American history and culture. He took the name for the holiday from the Swahili word Kwanzaa meaning first fruits of the harvest. The Seven Principles of Kwanzaa also lift the values to strive for in our lives and communities: Umoja – Unity; Kujichagulia – Self Determination; Ujima – Collective Work and Responsibility; Ujamaa – Cooperatives; Nia – Purpose; Kuumba – Creativity; and Imani – Faith.
The program participants included youth members of the sponsoring organization and the 2018 Debutant Class. Mr. Alphonzo Morton, III served as Master of Ceremony with musical selections provided by the Greene County Community Choir. Rev. Joe N. Webb led the devotions and blessing of the Harvest Feast.
The community shared the Talking Stick for expressions of the Kwanzaa Principles.