News | October 4, 2016

SELC, Coosa Riverkeeper intervene in state suit over Oxford, Alabama wastewater pollution

SELC and Coosa Riverkeeper have filed a motion to intervene in the Alabama Department of Environmental Management’s (ADEM) suit against the Tull C. Allen Wastewater Treatment Plant in Oxford, Alabama.

Following a notice of intent to sue that SELC and Coosa Riverkeeper filed against the Oxford Water Works & Sewer Board for ongoing violations of its pollution discharge permit and for failing to follow reporting and monitoring requirements, ADEM and the Attorney General’s office filed a lawsuit on Friday against the same Oxford Plant for violating the Alabama Water Pollution Control Act.

“The Tull C. Allen Wastewater Treatment Plant has skirted its responsibilities to the Oxford community for far too long,” said Staff Attorney Sarah Stokes. “In our efforts to ensure that all permit requirements are met and violations are properly reported, we ask that ADEM hold the plant accountable with meaningful, effective enforcement action for the health of Choccolocco Creek and Oxford residents.”

In addition to high levels of bacteria, unpermitted discharges of chlorine and formaldehyde, and sampling and monitoring violations, the Oxford Plant’s polluted discharge frequently causes foul-smelling, visible discoloration of Choccolocco Creek downstream from the discharge point.

Floating Fun LLC, a local recreational tubing company, reported it has had to turn away customers due to water quality issues on Choccolocco Creek during what would usually be peak summer months for tubing, paddling, and swimming.

“Not only does the pollution of Choccolocco Creek pose serious health risks for Oxford’s citizens, it also puts the recreational value of this area and the local businesses who depend on clean water at risk,” said Coosa Riverkeeper Frank Chitwood. “After 25 years of violations, there is clearly a critical need for a long-term solution. ADEM must act in the interest of Oxford residents and their right guaranteed by law to safely swim, paddle, and fish.”

The Oxford Water Works & Sewer Board will have 30 days to respond to the state’s suit.

Click here to read the motion to intervene.