Lawsuit filed on behalf of Uniontown residents

Published 8:54 pm Monday, April 9, 2018

*Editor’s Note: This story has been corrected from the original version that published on April 9, 2018.

Adam Dodson | The Selma Times-Journal

A Tuscaloosa-based law firm, Prince, Glover and Hayes, has filed a lawsuit on behalf of over 30 residents of Uniontown, who believe their health is being maliciously affected by factories and other organizations in the area.

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Defendants named in the lawsuit are Southeastern Cheese Corp., Southeastern Energy and Fertilizer LLC, Crosscreek Farms LLC and CFM Group.

The first three companies named are accused of knowingly spraying chemical waste into the air into fields or owning the land in which it took place. These fields are located close to Uniontown houses and the subsequent fumes created from the illegal dumping and spraying is causing a number of grievances.

The other organization, land surveying firm CFM Group, who is in charge of oversight and design of the spray fields, is accused of allowing this to happen.

According to attorney Robert Prince, the noxious fumes caused by the waste leaves a pungent smell in the air that residents have to deal with daily.

The law firm believes the smell and the fumes cause residents to become sick to their stomach, have trouble sleeping, headaches and the lack of a simple comfort of being able to enjoy their own homes.

“They can’t even enjoy their property. They want to come home from work and relax, but they can’t,” Prince said.

“The living conditions are impossible. I met with several clients last week, and they are extremely upset.”

The lawsuit comes on the heels of the Environmental Protection Agency choosing to drop two civil rights complaints filed in support of a number of Uninotown residents by the Yale Environmental Justice Clinic.

Prince says the EPA’s affiliate, the Alabama Department of Environmental Management, “could smell it a mile away” when they went to the town to see, or smell, things for themselves.

Despite the evidence provided by Uniontown residents and supporters, the EPA dropped both civil rights complaints, saying there was no sign of legitimate proof of their grievances and that there was no sign of racial discrepancies.

Prince says that they expect the lawsuit to make it into court in a year to a year and a half, but that they will be patient.

The next step is what Prince refers to as “progress through discovery.”

CFM Group was reached for comment, but they did not respond to inquiries. Southeastern Cheese Corporation could not be reached on the phone.

Southeastern Energy and Fertilizer LLC and Crosscreek Farms LLC could not be reached due to insufficient contact information.

Correction: On Monday,  the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights had previously filed two civil rights complaints to the Environmental Protection Agency on behalf of residents of Uniontown, and these complaints were later dropped. While the Commission on Civil Rights showed public concern over the EPA’s decision to drop the complaints, they did not file the complaints themselves. Rather, they provided public support for the residents of Uniontown and issued public statements regarding the EPA’s decision.