BIRMINGHAM, Ala. —  March 11, 2014 — The Jefferson County Department of Health (JCDH) has announced that it will hold a public hearing April 14 at 1 p.m. regarding a key air pollution permit. GASP this month requested the public hearing to provide further scrutiny of Drummond Company’s Title V Operating Permit for ABC Coke, which produces coke by-products in Tarrant, Ala.

Under Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rules established by the Clean Air Act, JCDH is responsible for granting permits to major industrial polluters. Analysis demonstrates that pollution from ABC Coke’s operations poses the greatest risk for toxic air pollution in Jefferson County.

The EPA is currently working in the northern Birmingham neighborhoods of Collegeville, Harriman Park, and Fairmont — also known as the 35th Avenue Superfund Site — on toxic pollution issues. Drummond Co. was named one of the potentially responsible parties (PRPs) by the EPA — meaning the pollution from ABC Coke has been identified as a source of the contamination.

GASP will be urging JCDH to adopt a protective “acceptable” cancer risk standard for determining when air pollution is excessive and must be restricted. Currently, JCDH has no standard in place to protect Jefferson County residents from toxic air pollution.

“Jefferson County residents need to get engaged in this process,” said Kirsten Bryant, GASP outreach director. “Birmingham has some of the dirtiest air in the U.S., and ABC Coke is a major reason why. These communities have been disenfranchised for decades and it’s time we to come together to protect everyone’s health and well-being.”

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