Federal court rules SELC, partner can proceed with Oxford wastewater violations claims

Unusual foam floats down Alabama's Choccolocco Creek downstream from the Oxford wastewater treatment plant where numerous violations have been documented over decades. (© Frank Chitwood/CoosaRiverkeeper)

In good news for clean water, a federal court in Alabama has ruled that SELC and Coosa Riverkeeper can proceed with claims against the Oxford Tull C. Allen Wastewater Treatment Plant east of Birmingham.

In response to a motion to dismiss, filed by the Oxford Water Works and Sewer Board, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama rejected arguments that the claims were barred, and ruled that the conservation groups could move forward with claims pertaining to the Oxford Plant’s discharge of high levels of E.coli, chlorine, and unpermitted discharges of formaldehyde into Choccolocco Creek.

“We are very pleased with the Court’s ruling, which underscores the gravity of the violations at the Oxford Plant—these are not small, insignificant issues caused by an occasional mistake or oversight,” said SELC Attorney Sarah Stokes. “After 25 years of violations at the Tull C. Allen Wastewater Treatment Plant, we cannot afford to allow history to repeat itself at the expense of clean water for the Oxford community.”

“It is unacceptable for the Oxford Plant to shirk its responsibilities and put the burden of unchecked pollution on its citizens,” said Coosa Riverkeeper Frank Chitwood. “Clean water is especially critical during this time of year when so many families and visitors view Choccolocco Creek as a destination spot for swimming, tubing, paddling and fishing. No one should have to worry about whether they might get sick from simply enjoying this special waterway.”

Sampling results taken by Coosa Riverkeeper have shown that the Oxford Plant has discharged extremely high concentrations of E. coli, some results showing levels hundreds of times greater than the permit allows. Coosa Riverkeeper monitors Choccolocco Creek approximately one mile downstream of the Oxford Plant for its popular Swim Guide program, and has issued water quality alerts for E.coli in the area for four out of the past nine weeks.

The Oxford Plant has also discharged high levels of chlorine, which can harm fish and other wildlife, and has released unpermitted discharges of formaldehyde, potentially from Kronospan, a nearby fiberboard plant.


Read the court’s ruling on the motion to dismiss.

More News

Virginia leaps forward on coal ash

Today, years of work by a host of dedicated citizens, conservation groups, and elected officials came to fruition, as Governor Ralph Northam sign...

It’s “Sunshine Week,” but SELC focus on public records is year-round

It’s Sunshine Week across our SELC region. And while we are enjoying the extra hour of evening sun gained by setting the clocks ahead, that’s not...

Clean Water Act proposal drastically cuts protections against pollution

SELC continues to battle a Trump administration proposal that would radically reduce the nation’s number of streams and wetlands protected by the...

Local residents, hunters, fishermen outraged by approval of $500M N.C. bridge

Local residents from the Currituck mainland and the nearby northern Outer Banks—along with hunters, fishermen, and wildlife enthusiasts from the...

Duke Energy overlooks clean energy opportunities in latest plan

A coalition of clean energy advocates filed expert analyses with North Carolina utility regulators today, finding that the Duke Energy’s long-ran...

Kingston coal ash disaster still reverberates 10 years later

Ten years ago, workers were several weeks into what would be the beginning of a multi-year cleanup of the largest toxic coal ash spill in U.S. hi...

More Stories