AFRICATOWN’s Public Hearing conducted by ADEM concerning the Hosea Weaver Asphalt Plant

AFRICATOWN’s Public Hearing conducted by ADEM concerning the Hosea Weaver Asphalt Plant

A group of about 75 people gathered at The Robert Hope Community Center in Africatown on February 5th as The Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) conducted a Public Hearing to hear public comments concerning an operations permit applied for by The Hosea Weaver Asphalt Plant located in The Magazine Point Neighborhood of The Africatown Community.  This meeting has been a long time coming as residents from Africatown have been complaining about its operation since before they opened their doors in 1999. Their operation was originally located in an upscale area in West Mobile before residential complaints forced them to relocate their operations. They relocated their operations in Africatown (an underserved community) without filing for a permit to operate. When asked by the media why he never applied for a permit to operate, the owner replied, “I did not think I needed to apply for a permit to operate out there”. The Judge gave him a $5,000 fine, told him to get a permit and ordered him to construct an 8 foot privacy fence and plant hedges 8 feet tall. He never constructed the latter 2 items. The fence they erected might be 6 feet and not a private fence while the hedges do nothing to block that awful sight and terrible smell. Now we have learned that The Asphalt Plant is operating under an incorrect operating permit for what they are producing at that location. The disrespect and harm that the Hosea Weaver Asphalt Plant has created for The Historic Africatown Community and its residents is unthinkable and would not happen in another area of Mobile.

During the hearing, 10 people spoke at the hearing and 1 person (sick at home) submitted a letter to ADEM (letter below). Of the 11 people that responded at the public hearing, 7 were against the renewal of their operating permit and 4 were in favor of the renewal of their operating permit. 3 of the 4 people that spoke in favor of renewing the permit were associated with The Africatown CDC and the other was associated with a local business group that meet with the Africatown CDC. None had ever lived near that asphalt plant.  There were 7 people against the renewal of the permit. 1 was a member of The Mobile Planning Commission in 1999 and voted against ever giving them a permit to operate in Africatown because of their disregard for the permit process and what could happen (and has happened) if they were allowed to operate in Africatown. Another no vote came from the president of MEJAC, a local environmental organization. Another no vote came from Joe Womack, President of CHESS, another local environmental organization. One Africatown native would like to rebuild her family homestead located near the asphalt plant, but cannot because of the plant’s pollution. One Chin Street resident referred to the name of his street as “death row” because everyone living near the plant has either moved away or died off. Another Chin Street resident said that there is nowhere he can go inside of his house to escape the odors and sounds emitted by the asphalt plant. The letter submitted to ADEM is shown below.

My name is John Seth Tunstall. I live at 315 Chin Street, Mobile, AL 36610.
I am not in approval of the permit for the Weaver asphalt plant.
I smell it down here by me, and it is awful. When the wind is high, I can hardly stand it. I have to move up to the front room of my house to keep from having to smell it so bad. My health isn’t in the best condition. I have three forms of cancer. I don’t know where it’s coming from, but maybe these things have some sort of effect on it. I shouldn’t have to live like this when this plant is running.
There’s other things going on down there, moving rocks or something, making noise all night all day. It might be at a different spot, but it’s all on the same side.
The asphalt plant permit should be denied. I don’t want them to have a permit. They aren’t coming up to standards in as far as doing what they’re supposed to be doing or I wouldn’t have to live like this.
They should have something up there that should catch the dust, keep it watered down some kind of way.
It shouldn’t be this hard to say all this when you got people in the community that don’t live down on this end of the community that say the plant it’s fine. We can’t oppose businesses around here. But it’s not progress if a plant is killing people or killing their quality of life. That’s not progress.
I’m just one person, but this is my truthful statement.
We just want clean air without the pollution down here. It’s been too long.

John Tunstall, USAF Veteran
Thank you for taking this into consideration.

It is unfortunate for Our Historic Africatown Community that this facility was ever given a permit to operate in Africatown. This company now has three other plants located near Mobile and could easily absorb the operations of this plant with the others and allow residents to pursue their vision of bringing people back into this historic community without fear of pollution or industrial harm.

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