Those of us at Sipsey Heritage Commission have been discussing the recent revelation (revealed by Black Warrior Riverkeeper) that ADEM was fully aware of the high e.coli levels present on the Mulberry Fork in the aftermath of the Tyson spill which occurred on June 6, 2019. ADEM withheld this information from the public.

We have heard phrases like “due process” and “open investigation” thrown around in the public discourse. These terms always seem to favor one side. It is not the side of the people who actually fish in, recreate on, and drink water from the Mulberry Fork of the Black Warrior River. Paraphrasing Jared Aaron, one of our members, ADEM really doesn’t work for us. In fact, Lance LaFluer told Brian Pia of ABC 3340 that fining Tyson for the spill is “Old School.” (Perhaps this argument can be used if we get pulled over for speeding.)

While Tyson does press releases extolling the great charity work it does, we on the Mulberry Fork continue to live in the aftermath of this environmental disaster. While Tyson reports that it has given 19,000 pounds of chicken to an after school program in Tennessee, teenagers from Sipsey and Empire are still on the river, but they are no longer able to supplement family meals with fish. Providing food for the family table should rank high among after school programs. While Tyson sends an open letter to the residents of Hanceville, this massive company goes on pretending that Colony, Bremen, Sipsey, Empire, Argo, and Cordova do not exist. It can be added here that Hanceville is above the actual spill.

Even worse is to be misled by our own people, the people who are supposed to be protecting us from companies that have no qualms poisoning us if it means a few more dollars in profit. The Alabama Department of Environmental Management is an agency that is supposed to “assure for all citizens of the State a safe, healthful, and productive environment.” ADEM has failed in its mission, and it has ignored its reason to exist.