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Living on Bad Land

((Banner: Living on Polluted Land))
((Reporter/Camera: Gabrielle Weiss))
((Map: Birmingham, Alabama))

((Popup Banner:
The Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Superfund
program is responsible for cleaning up some of the nation's
most contaminated land.
The 35th Avenue Superfund site is located in North
Birmingham, Alabama.))
((Keisha Brown, Resident of Harriman Park))
My name is Keisha Brown. I live in the Harriman Park
community in North Birmingham. This area was declared a
Superfund site about 5 or 6 years ago or even longer and
the government declared it because there is so much
pollution and toxins. We used to have grocery stores out
here, a café. It was a thriving community and then people
started dying out, getting sick and we didn’t know what they
would get sick of until recently we found out a lot of our
people die cancers and respiratory problems, skin disorders.
I mean, everything you can name, people have it out here.
Right now, I have to take two inhalers. This is my life every
day. Most of people in our community have to function on
medicine every day just to make it.
((Popup Banner: To date, EPA has remediated over 440
properties and more than 58,000 tons of contaminated soil
have been excavated from the 35th Avenue Superfund site.))
((Keisha Brown, Resident of Harriman Park))
Well, you’re going to see this big mountain of mineral pile
that’s across the street here. It’s been there for about 18 or
19 years and it’s toxic. A couple of times, it caught on fire by
itself. We don’t know how it caught on fire but it caught on
fire. I live right there and here is the coal plant, the cement
plant and the railroad yard, right there. You see how close it
is to my house?
((Keisha Brown, Resident of Harriman Park))
They dug up and tested my soil. This little part right here,
this little section right here, that’s where they dug up, right
here. And when they did that, they said, I had eleven out of
fifteen chemicals but only, it wasn’t clean up level. So, they
didn’t replace my soil. They just left it like it was because it
wasn’t clean up level. They just tested my neighbor’s front
yard and side yard and said, it was the highest level of
chemicals in the whole community and they replaced it with
some soil, the front and the side but they didn’t do the
backyard. This is my neighbor. We grew up together.
We’re like family and we’ve been going through this for
years. You can hear his point.
((Dennis Moore Jr., Resident of Harriman Park))
This kind of dirt, whatever the chemicals…..
((Keisha Brown, Resident of Harriman Park))
Itchy dirt…..
((Dennis Moore Jr., Resident of Harriman Park))
We used to have it all in our yards. We used to play in it.
And then, we had to go in to take a bath. It used to burn so
much because you’d have to get all the chemicals out of
your skin. That’s why we used to call it, when we was
young, we used to call it ‘itchy dirt’ and stuff. That’s the way
we used to call it. My grandma said, ‘Don’t go out there and
play in that dirt’. And we used to be, you know, as kids, we
were hard-headed. We’d go out here and play in it. And like
I said, when you’d take a bath, oh my goodness, it burned so
((Dennis Moore Jr., Resident of Harriman Park))
I had a tumor removed off my pituitary glands and I don’t
know where it come from. We have never had that in our
family or anything, so I don’t know where it come from.
((Keisha Brown, Resident of Harriman Park))
But now, we’re finding out a lot of people out here having
those problems like he had. They’re saying the chemicals
causes brain cancer and tumors. He didn’t know he had it in
his head ever since he was a child and he didn’t even know
((Dennis Moore Jr., Resident of Harriman Park))
It’s mainly my mom. She’s sick now and she can barely like
breathe and she got COPD, the asthma. And I believe it
comes from being out here in this atmosphere.
((Keisha Brown, Resident of Harriman Park))
My community’s my family and you’re not going to ruin my
family. You’re not going to hurt my family. When my family
hurt, I hurt.
((Dennis Moore Jr., Resident of Harriman Park))
They’re supposed to have dug the bad dirt up and replaced it
with dirt, some more dirt that was supposed to be clean dirt.
But I’m still saying, if the front part is high contamination, that
means our house is sitting on top of that too. So, we’re still
getting sick behind that. I don’t see how they can say that
it’s safe to live out here in this environment.
((Keisha Brown, Resident of Harriman Park))
It’s just like we’re invisible. And I get tired of people who tell
me they care. They don’t care. No, they don’t. If they
cared, they would come and see the needs of the people.
((Keisha Brown, Resident of Harriman Park))
How can you clean something up when it’s constantly falling
and we’re still getting sick?
((Keisha Brown, Resident of Harriman Park))
I have to read them every day. They help me through
situations. Without God, I don’t know how we would make it.
((Popup Banner:
Since the filming of this video, Mr. Moore's mother passed
Under current conditions, EPA anticipates that cleanup
activities will be completed by 2023.))

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