The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2011 named ABC Coke — one of Alabama’s worst toxic air polluters — a potentially responsible party for contamination in northern Birmingham. ABC Coke’s Title V Operating Permit was up for renewal last year, and Gasp organized nearby communities and helped residents file comments on the proposed permit.
However, the Jefferson County Department of Health (JCDH) re-issued ABC Coke’s permit without significant changes on Aug. 11, 2014, missing a key opportunity to reduce air pollution and protect the health of residents.
On behalf of its members, Gasp immediately appealed the permit to the Jefferson County Board of Health, which oversees the health department. After months of fighting motions filed in lockstep by ABC Coke and JCDH, the Board of Health dismissed our appeal based on the recommendation of JCDH-appointed hearing officer James H. Hard, IV.
In response to this action, Gasp Executive Director Stacie M. Propst, PhD, issued the following statement:
“The people of Birmingham lost today. In rubber-stamping Judge Hard’s order, the Board of Health ignored the legal merits of our complaint and once again missed an opportunity to reduce Birmingham’s air pollution and improve the health of everyone who lives and works in Jefferson County.
“Birmingham continues to rank as one of the worst cities in the nation for air quality. Gasp intends to hold the Jefferson County Department of Health and the Board of Health to account for actions that are clearly in the best interest of industrial polluters at the expense of the health and well-being of the public they serve. Everyone deserves clean, healthy air to breathe.”