New Report: Poor Americans of Color Drink Filthy Water and Breathe Poisonous Air All the Damn Time
In 2009, trains arrived in Uniontown, Alabama carrying four millions tons of coal ash, the toxic residue from burning coal. The ash was recovered from a spill in Kingston, Tennessee—a town that is more than 90 percent white—and brought to a new landfill less than a mile from the residential part of Uniontown, which is 90 percent black. Soon, Uniontown residents began reporting breathing problems, rashes, nausea, nosebleeds, and more.
"The smell, the pollution, and the fear affect all aspects of life—whether we can eat from our gardens, hang our clothes or spent time outside," resident Esther Calhoun later said.
Uniontown residents filed a complaint to the Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Civil Rights in 2013, alleging that the waste was disproportionately affecting black property owners. By allowing the landfill to exist, they said, Alabama was violating Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which mandates that federeal funds not be used in a discriminatory purpose. The EPA is supposed to respond to such complaints within 6 months. Three years after filing the complaint, Uniontown residents are still waiting for an answer.