Randall Woodfin, Terri Sewell tour North Birmingham Superfund Site

Superfund site
[Photo Credit: Daniel Roth, City of Birmingham]

Earlier this month Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin sent a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last week insisting that they add the North Birmingham 35th Avenue Superfund Site to their National Priorities list.

On Wednesday, Rep. Terri Sewell and Mayor Randall Woodfin were joined by city, state and neighborhood leaders — including Councilor William Parker, State Rep. Mary Moore and EPA Region 4 Superfund Division Director Franklin Hill — during a tour of the Superfund Site, which consists of contaminated soil from industrial pollution.

According to Hill, the study site of roughly 2,000 properties revealed that 390 sites have undergone the contamination removal process; 127 sites are in need of treatment.

“What’s concerning all of us is the fact that there are 500 or so sites that are either abandoned properties or people refused to allow the EPA to come on and remove from those sites,” Sewell said. “I think it’s important to get active members of the community involved to reach out to hesitant residents.”

Terri Sewell_superfund site on Facebook
[Photo Credit: Rep. Terri Sewell on Facebook]

“There are real, tangible issues here that have affected people where they live, where they eat, where they sleep every single day,” Woodfin said. “What we’re committed to, based on everything that has happened, is that this area gets the resources, focus and attention it needs to make sure the residents get what they need to be safe.”

“No neighborhood should ever be left with toxic soil – that’s an environmental injustice that hurts our families and our children,” Sewell added on Facebook about her visit to the site. “We’re joining together today in our fight for a full cleanup that corrects that injustice. Our families deserve better.”

History of the site

On July 19, 2018, a federal jury convicted a coal executive and an attorney who represented the coal company in a criminal conspiracy to prevent the North Birmingham 35th Avenue Superfund Site from advancing to the NPL.

According to EPA guidelines, a site may be included on the NPL if it scores 28.50 or greater on the agency’s Hazard Ranking System. The North Birmingham 35th Avenue Superfund Site scored a 50.

In the letter to EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler, Woodfin said: “As a result of these illegal actions, thousands remain at risk, including the 1,070 people living in 394 public housing units and 751 children attending Hudson K-8 school.”

“The United States Attorney has already done their part by exposing this criminal hoax and bringing those responsible to justice,” the letter continues. “Still these injustices continue until The North Birmingham 35th Avenue Superfund Site is placed on the National Priorities List and all necessary resources are provided to the people of this community.”

Woodfin has asked residents to sign a petition urging the EPA to take action. The petition has garnered nearly 2,000 as of this was published.

View the press conference below: