Death and Illness Spike Near Vincent Chemical Dump Site
Friday, the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) was asked to conduct an investigation into the health effects caused by years of illegal toxic material dumping by a subsidiary of EBSCO Industries in Vincent.
Online PR News – 23-October-2012 –Last Friday, the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) heard a startling presentation that people in and around a tainted industrial site in Vincent, Alabama are seriously ill and dying. Alabaster based attorney John Aaron asked ADEM to finally conduct a long-delayed investigation into the serious health effects caused by years of illegal toxic material dumping by Vulcan Binder and Cover- a subsidiary of EBSCO Industries - on the company’s property in Vincent.
While EBSCO owned company, Vulcan Binder, was illegally dumping toxic waste in Shelby County, an area conservation watchdog group, Black Warrior River Keepers, was being run by Nelson Brook – son of EBSCO Industries CEO Dixon Brook. Public records show that one of the largest contributors to Black Warrior River Keepers is EBSCO Industries. Aaron sees troubling ramifications from this relationship. “We hope that the power and influence of the Brook family hasn’t been used to hinder the clean up and testing in Vincent.”
Aaron made the case to the Commission that there are a number of cases of cancer and cancer- related deaths in the Town of Vincent that raise serious questions. Initial analysis shows that there appears to be a higher number of cancer related illnesses and deaths in Vincent, Alabama than in the rest of Shelby County. While Shelby County has one of the lowest rate cancer deaths, at 132 per 1,000 deaths, compared to a statewide rate of 212 per 1,000 deaths, the death rates in Vincent appear to nearly double the county average.
"It is highly unlikely that this many African-American people getting sick and dying of cancer in Vincent is a natural phenomenon or merely coincidental. The documented evidence of illegal toxic chemical dumping in this area, coupled with the elevated death rates has every appearance of simple cause and effect. But, we won’t know that until ADEM follows through on the investigation they promised to conduct over ten years ago,” said Aaron.
“Since 2001 there has been no further testing or clean up. Only God knows how many people have been contaminated because that poison has been allowed to stew in the ground. But, we intend to find out.”
According to ADEM’s own documents, over a period of 15 years Vulcan Binder illegally discharged more than 15 tons of hazardous waste into the ground at its Vincent facility. The records indicate that the waste included formaldehyde, solvents, hazardous metals, and trichlorotane a well-documented cancer causing agent.
Aaron indicated that Vulcan Binder’s septic system was nothing more than industrial size septic system in the ground with field lines going out under the property. There are drainage ditches and a creek that run across Vulcan’s property and into the Coosa River approximately. Aaron added that without a proper investigation, it is virtually impossible to know how far the contamination spread.
Aaron presented the commission with information regarding the human toll of the illegal dumping on one particular family. Aaron’s client Jimmy Carter grew up in Vincent and spent most of his adult life a short distance from the dumping site. Carter works for the Jefferson County Health Department and has always taken care of himself by not smoking or drinking. He also considered himself blessed that there was no history of cancer in his family. Three weeks ago, he was rushed to the hospital with severe chest pain. Examination showed that Carter had lung cancer which had progressed to his ribs and other parts of his body. Carter recently had half of one lung and multiple ribs removed. He begins chemotherapy this month.
Carter’s brother-in-law Earon McGinnis and his wife of more than 30 years, Pauline lived less than 3 miles from the Vulcan plant for their entire married life. After Mr. McGinnis retired from a job in Harpersville, he went to work at Vulcan Binder. In 1997, after working at Vulcan for several years Mr. McGinnis was also diagnosed with lung cancer and died approximately a year later in 1998.
In May 2009 Mr. McGinnis’ wife Pauline was diagnosis with intestinal and liver cancer.
Like the others Aaron presented, Mrs. McGinnis did not smoke or drink and had no family history of cancer. She has endured two surgeries, and continues to have to take medicine to insure that the cancer does not return.
ADEM’s records indicate that Vulcan’s illegal dumping of hazardous waste was discovered in December of 1984 and they were issued a “Notice of Violation” by ADEM in 1985. The dumping took place from 1970 through 1985 – even continuing one year after the investigation that exposed the illegal dumping was conducted.
Vulcan limited the clean-up of the site until 2001 when ADEM signed off on Vulcan’s plan to remove the dirt and close the septic tank. But Aaron says follow though has been sluggish if not nonexistent. "Since 2001 there has been no further testing or clean up. Only God knows how many people have been contaminated because that poison has been allowed to stew in the ground. But, we intend to find out,” said Aaron.