Chemical plant opposed

Published 6:48 am Wednesday, August 1, 2007

By By Adam Prestridge
More than 50 concerned residents packed New Order Baptist Church on Woods Road Monday evening to express their opposition of a company's plans to build a chemical plant out their backdoor.
Concerns regarding the chemical plant, which C&S Chemicals plans to build off Wood Road, began after Atmore Mayor Howard Shell expressed his opposition of the plant during last Monday's council meeting. Shell, who was out of town on business Monday night and did not attend the meeting, said he believes voicing their opinion is the right thing for the residents near the plant to do.
"The site that the chemical company picked to build is in a residential area and I thoroughly understand the local residents around it being upset about it going in and what it will do to their property values," Shell said Tuesday afternoon. "Unfortunately, it's in an un-zoned area and I'm not sure at this point what actions can be taken, but the people in the area seem to be organizing and exploring all possibilities."
Shell said the property in question is not in the Atmore city limits, but felt it necessary to voice his disagreement with its construction because it is so close to Atmore.
"I don't know of anything we can do," Shell said. "It is in the county, out of our city limits and outside our zoning."
During the meeting, which Wiley B. Tait, Escambia County Commission for district 5 helped organize, individuals had the opportunity to express their concerns and question what types of dangers the plant may pose.
"The Commission's hands are tied and we have no zoning," he said.
Freemanville resident Keiana Quarker-White explained the dangers of the Sulfuric Acid.
"Sulfuric Acid is toxic and endangers the health and safety of our family," she said. "It lowers property value. Everybody should be concerned."
Another concerned citizen, Jim Battles, spoke with Mike Chandler, vice president of C&S Chemical, who said that the three-brother company out of Georgia, said officials will be onsite this week and are planning to move forward quickly.
"There is no legal remedy without zoning," attorney Danny White said. "My encouragement at this point is to organize and talk to the people."
The Rev. Bernard Bishop also voiced his concern that the elected commissioners are not well informed on this matter.
"Our representatives are not informed and we do not have a voice that will speak for the people," he said.
Since last Thursday, organizers of the group have collected more than 500 signatures opposing the plant.
White went on to explain the dangers of Sulfuric Acid.
"Any chemical plant will have spills. Sulfuric Acid is the most frequently reported chemical spills," she said. "These spills occur daily, at least once every hour."
White said the chemical creates acid mist. Acid Mist cans irate eyes, nose, throat, and lungs. It particularly affects those with Asthma. Sulfuric Acid is ranked number four out of 400 toxic chemicals.
The group has contacted an environmental group, ADEM, Alabama Department of Environmental Management.
The next meeting will be at 6 p.m. on Aug. 6 in the Escambia County Middle School gym.
Advance office manager/circulation clerk Jeremy DeWise contributed to this article.

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