The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has dismissed a civil rights case brought by residents of Uniontown, Ala., who claimed their health problems were due to toxic coal ash from a 2008 spill in Harriman, Tenn., that was disposed of in a landfill near Uniontown.
Coal ash contains a number of toxins that can cause health problems. In Uniontown, residents report breathing difficulties, mental illness and cancer. Authorities have not conducted studies to determine a correlation.
Uniontown’s population is 90 percent black and 50 percent live below the poverty line. The group of residents who filed the Civil Rights Act complaint argued that this was a case of environmental racism.
“The protection we’ve got from the government is little to none,” resident Ben Eaton told The Guardian. “I can’t help but feel it’s because the population is mainly black and poor. This was forced on us. If this was a white, wealthy community, this would’ve never happened.” — Ashley Goodman