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Meriwether NAACP President Seeks Help from Congressman

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Shirley Hines

Shirley Hines

 

In a battle that appears to be growing more intense with each passing week, Shirley Grier Hines, President of Meriwether County’s NAACP urged Georgia State Representative Lynn Westmoreland to “take immediate steps to stop the environmental injustice in her community by facilitating an EPA investigation into all aspects of the Turkey Run Municipal Solid Waste Landfill.”

The landfill has become a hot subject of debate because it’s proposed location is on a municipal watershed in northern Meriwether County, Georgia, and very near property owned and inhabited by a predominantly black population.  This week, Hines submitted an official complaint to Westmoreland, from the Meriwether County Branch of the NAACP, alleging that “locating this landfill in this area appears to be in direct violation of Executive Order 12898, “Federal Action to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Population and Low-Income Populations” signed by President Bill Clinton February 11, 1994.”

In her complaint, Hines cited a 2007 document Released by the United Church of Christ, entitled “Toxic Wastes and Race at Twenty: 1987-2007”,  pointing out the extreme fear that millions live in, that the air in their neighborhood is unsafe to breathe, the water unfit to drink, their homes unhealthy place to raise their children.  “Far too many Americans with lower incomes or from communities of color are confronted with higher levels of pollution, putting their children and families at risk.  It’s separate, it’s unequal, and it’s wrong”.   According to this report, of the nine million Americans who live in communities with one or more hazardous waste facilities, more than five million of them are people of color.”

Appealing to Westmoreland for help, Hines asserted that, “The citizens of Northwest Meriwether County and particularly those in the Town of Lone Oak do not want to be added to these statistics.”

“The proposed site is adjacent to an African American community.  The African American residents fear the impact it will have on their health, surface and groundwater, wells and the impact of 300 plus trucks a day to the site.  The site will be approximately two miles from Saint Paul C.M.E. Church and less than one-tenth of a mile from the church cemetery.  The church just celebrated 138 years of service in the community.   (A cemetery was discovered on the proposed landfill site, headstones dating back as early as 1819.  It is believed those buried in this cemetery are the human remains of slaves from a plantation that was once located near the site (Rack Straw Plantation).  It is also believed the cemetery may contain American Indian Burials.”

Hines said the residents are convinced the Turkey Run Municipal Solid Waste regional landfill will not bring industrial growth to their community, but instead it will decrease property value, and bring on health issues.

The Town of Lone Oak remains distinctly rural in character and land usage is zoned mostly agriculture, at least partially due to the insufficiency of local water and sewage system infrastructure not in place.  80% of the citizens have wells and septic tanks.  The Town of Lone Oak has a volunteer fire department.

Mrs. Hines is accusing the Georgia Environmental Protection Division, (EPD) of side-stepping the law by failing to provide a genuine opportunity for citizens to defend their rights to clean air, water, and land and protect their health and local economy.   Citing Georgia Senate Resolution 325:  “Whereas, the Environmental Protection Division should carry out a health risk analysis of the populations near a landfill.”

“We believe that the citizens deserve to have that analysis done, to ensure that their right to a safe environment are respected.”

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