What Toxic Waste Facilities Attract

By Staff

Vol. 12, No. 5, 1990, p. 10

The plight of Sumter County, Ala., is a good example for those who may be considering a toxic waste facility in their community or state. Waste Management Inc. took over the dumpsite in Emelle in 1978. They promised that the facility would bring in much-needed industry and jobs to our economically depressed area. However, the facts reveal otherwise.

In 1978 Sumter County had an unemployment rate of 5.8 percent. This figure has risen drastically to 21.1 percent. These statistics from the Alabama Employment Service also show that Sumter County lost 2,000 from its work force from 1978 to 1986 and lost five industries.

Another problem with people leaving our county in search of work is that we have many homes being put on the market. Unfortunately, no one is anxious to move to a county that has no work to offer other than a job at a waste dump.

Along with property devaluation, we are experiencing a crisis in our healthcare. One hospital facility in Livingston has closed and the other hospital in York is in serious financial difficulty and may not survive. We have lost most of our physicians as well. Ambulance service has been cut considerably to rural areas.

One of the problems of living in a dying county is that there is not enough money to go around to all the agencies which need it. Taxes are the only recourse for additional funds. A proposed increase of the ad valorem tax is expected to be 11 mills which will bring the rate from 23.1 to 34.1.

Sumter is suffering and others can learn from its example. The only thing toxic waste facilities attract is more toxic waste.--KAY KIKER (Alabamians for a Clean Environment, P.O. Box 177, York, AL 36925; 205-392-7443)