Contact: Black Belt Citizens, Ben Eaton 334-507-8951
AFTER 3 DECADES OF SEWAGE CRISIS, BLACK BELT CITIZENS DEMAND A CHANGE
Uniontown, AL - Uniontown sits at a very pivotal and important moment. In the midst of a sewage crisis that has lasted over 3 decades, Uniontown has to make a decision: will we build a wastewater treatment plant or more sprayfields? For most residents and community leaders with the Black Belt Citizens Fighting for Health & Justice (BBC), the answer has always been: build a treatment plant, not more sprayfields. According to BBC Vice-President Ben Eaton: “Uniontown’s sprayfields have always been a major problem. Our sprayfields will not work because of the soil and geology. They did not work in 1992 when they built the first sprayfield, they did not work in 2012 when they brought in the $4.8 Million USDA grant, and they will not work now. We need a treatment plant. And we need our local and state officials to listen so we do not waste any more taxpayer’s money.”
For several years, Uniontown residents’ asks for no sprayfields to fix the problem of the sewage crisis have been ignored. BBC and other residents have called upon national experts to converge in Uniontown at the next City Council meeting on August 15. The US Human Rights Network and members of the National Human Rights to Water and Sanitation Coalition will join BBC’s fight for clean water and working sanitation in Uniontown, to draw attention to the nightmare of daily sewage overflows from the sprayfield site as well as the recent proposal for more sprayfields. But there are 3 other options to address the sewage crisis instead of using sprayfields. In a revised engineering report from Sentell Engineering to the AL Department of Environmental Management dated from June 29, 2016 shows 4 options available to Uniontown:
· Option # 1 Build more sprayfields and continue the same illegal discharge to Freetown Creek for $11.4 million
· Option #2 Upgrade the lagoon and pipe sewage over 20 miles to the Black Warrior River for $13.7 million
· Option #3 Actually build a Mechanical Plant able to discharge into Freetown Creek + possibly hire more staff for $12.6 million
· OR Option #4 Build a Mechanical Plant and pipe sewage over 20 miles to the Black Warrior River for $16.4 million
BBC President Esther Calhoun says: “There is no excuse for daily sewage overflows. There is no excuse for mismanaging $4.8 Million dollars of taxpayer money. There is no excuse for those in power to mistreat us because we are poor. How much longer must we wait for our rights, dignity, and ability to live a life full of happiness and liberty? Enough is enough, we are sick and tired of being sick and tired. Sprayfields are not the answer, we demand clean water and working sanitation NOW! And we demand our voices heard NOW!”
"Access to clean water and sanitation is an internationally recognized human right, not a privilege,” said US Human Rights Network Executive Director, Ejim Dike. “It is clear, after over 3 decades of a sewage crisis in Uniontown, that using sprayfields is not an option anymore. Uniontown must agree to and follow through with the demands from Black Belt Citizens Fighting for Health & Justice and build a wastewater treatment facility to ensure that every resident has clean water and working sanitation."
Media are invited to attend the entire day’s program:
- For Community Tour meet at 2 PM at Piggly Wiggly, 128 Water St
- For Press conference meet at 4:45 PM at Uniontown City Hall, 100 Front St
- For Tribunal meet at Quinn Chapel AME, 100 Williams Avenue (immediately following the City Council meeting)
BBC’s goals for clean water and working sanitation include (but are not limited to):
- Immediate halt to the daily sewage overflows, halt to the on-going plans of more sprayfield and wetland treatment methods.
- No sprayfields, no wetlands.
- A state-of-the-art wastewater treatment plant be built for a healthy Uniontown.
- Replace Sentell Engineering and hold them responsible to the maximum extent.
- Hire a new engineer based on a democratic, town-hall decision-making process.
- Investigate and account the $4.8 Million USDA project.
- Investigation the City Council’s reported past actions and procedures to improperly enter into executive session.
- Uniontown require Harvest Select to stop wastewater discharge volume exceedances into the City’s system.
- Responsible industries pay for their fair share of the system.
- No increase to residential water rates.
ABOUT BLACK BELT CITIZENS FIGHTING FOR HEALTH AND JUSTICE
Black Belt Citizens Fighting For Health & Justice (BBC) is a grassroots community organization located in Uniontown, Perry County, Alabama. For over a decade, BBC has been fighting against environmental racism, government corruption, and state violence and discrimination in Uniontown.
ABOUT THE US HUMAN RIGHTS NETWORK
The US Human Rights Network (USHRN) is a national network of organizations and individuals working to strengthen a human rights movement and culture within the United States led by the people most directly impacted by human rights violations. It is a network of over 300 organizational members that is working to popularize human rights in communities across the United States in order to secure dignity and justice for all. www.ushrnetwork.org