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Resident believes Sumter owed money for waste fees

By: Patrick Ellis/ Demopolis Times Writer

YORK-Kaye Kiker of the Citizens Task Force attended the Sumter County Commission meeting on Monday, January 12 for one single purpose. That purpose was to ask the county commission to write a letter to the Alabama Department of Revenue asking for an investigation into Chemical Waste Management possibly defrauding the citizens of Sumter County and the state of Alabama on the tax from the tonnage fees.

“I’m here to ask that a letter be written on behalf of the people of Sumter County to the department of revenue.”

Kiker’s claim comes from the lawsuit Mark W. Gregory, et al vs. Chemical Waste Management, Inc. from 1996. The lawsuit claimed that the original owners of the dump were not receiving their share of the over $700 million in royalties from the corporation. Federal Judge Ordell Horton ruled that WMX committed fraud, as well as misrepresentation to the original owners and awarded them $91 million.

“What is troubling about this case is that fraud, misrepresentation and dishonesty apparently became part of the operating culture of the Defendant Corporation (WMX). Even more so, Defendant and its corporate officers apparently refused to recognize their duties as required by the totally unambiguous contract.” Federal Judge Horton said.

Kiker feels that if they would consider committing fraud to the original owners then what stops them from doing it to the county or even the state. She said that the state has a tax it places on toxic waste dumping. The Alabama state tax on waste disposal is anywhere from $22 to $116 per ton for out of state wastes and $40 per ton for in state waste.

Kiker also thinks that big corporations like WMX always come to small black rural towns to build their landfills and dumpsites.

The UCC Commission for Racial Justice agrees with Kiker.

“The 1983 GAO study and the data assembled for the Commission for Racial Justice show a propensity for locating large commercial landfills in predominantly rural black communities: the largest commercial hazardous waste landfill in the nation is located in Emelle, Alabama (Sumter County) where Blacks comprise 78.9 percent of the population.” “Toxic Wastes and Races,” UCC Commission for Racial Justice.

Kiker said that back in 1986 WMX was the largest employer in Sumter County employing over 480 people.

She also said that the site is 3,400 acres and contains about 10 million tons of toxic waste. Thus making it the largest dump in the nation.

“In 1978, the international waste disposal conglomerate Waste Management, Inc. decided to buy a small dump from Resource Industries in the village of Emelle in the center of Sumter. Jim Parsons, one of the original owners of the dump and son in law of then Governor George Wallace sold the dump to CWM. Since acquiring the landfill, WMX has dumped millions of tons of hazardous waste on what was once lush farmland, creating the largest hazardous waste landfill in the United States, and possibly the world. A local county official calls the 2,700 acre landfill expanded from 340 acres since WMX has owned it ‘America’s largest pay toilet.” The dump sits directly over the Eutaw Aquifer, which supplies water to a large part of Alabama.” Excerpts taken from WASTE MANAGEMENT, INC: An Encyclopedia of Environmental Crimes&Other Misdeeds, A GREENPEACE REPORT by Charlie Cray, 1991.