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  • Writer's pictureDonald V. Watkins

Black Lives Were Lost in North Birmingham; White Lives Were Protected in East Palestine, Ohio

Updated: Aug 17, 2023

By: Donald V. Watkins

Copyrighted and Published on July 15, 2023

IMAGE: Bluestone Coke Plant in Birmingham, Alabama, formerly known as the Walter Coke Plant..

North Birmingham and the City of Tarrant

Walter Coke, U.S. Pipe, Alagasco, KMAC, ABC Coke, and the Drummond Company, all of whom are major industrial polluters, saturated residential neighborhoods in North Birmingham and the City of Tarrant with deadly cancer-causing toxins for over a century. These polluted neighborhoods have a population of more than 4,000 residents, 92.5% of whom are black.

The polluters were business alliance partners of the Atlanta-based Southern Company and Alabama Power Company. They used the Southern Company's and Alabama Power's network of compromised black leaders/influencers in Birmingham to help the polluters escape an estimated $750 million in Environmental Protection Agency-related Superfund cleanup costs in the polluted neighborhoods.

In exchange for less than $1 million in 501(c)(4) “dark money” donations, campaign contributions, bribes, consultant fee payments to the girlfriends of politicians, advertising money to friendly news media outlets, and other meaningless trinkets, the black leaders/influencers depicted in the chart below put a chokehold on the EPA's efforts to make the polluters pay for the Superfund site cleanup costs and do so on an expedited basis.

ABC Coke continues to pollute these neighborhoods on a daily basis. Black residents are dying as a result of its pollution.

As of September 2022, the EPA had spent a measly $45 million on the Superfund site cleanup efforts in North Birmingham and Tarrant, including $3 million to renovate a city school that is sitting on poisoned land. This amount is small, pathetic, embarrassing, and humiliating.

IMAGE: Black leaders/influencers were all-smiles in Birmingham when they announced a $3 million check for redeveloping a city school in North Birmingham. When this photo was taken in September 2022, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency had spent only $45 million to cleanup a century of deadly air, ground, and water pollution in North Birmingham and the City of Tarrant. East Palestine, Ohio has the same population as the polluted neighborhoods in North Birmingham and Tarrant. Within three weeks after a freight train derailed in this 93.5% white city, the EPA ordered Norfolk Southern to cleanup East Palestine at a cost of $387 million, as of April 23, 2023..

In Birmingham and Tarrant, black lives clearly did not matter to the area’s black leaders/influencers and their handlers. These black leaders/infleuncers sold out more than 4,000 of their constituents for less than $1 million.

Because of this sellout, the residents of North Birmingham and Tarrant combined have gotten less than 10% of the amount spent for the environmental cleanup of East Palestine, Ohio.

East Palestine, Ohio

On February 3, 2023, a Norfolk Southern freight train derailed in East Palestine, Ohio and spilled hazardous chemicals in the ground. East Palestine has a population of 4,457 people, 93.5% of whom are white.

On February 21, 2023, the EPA ordered Norfolk Southern to clean up the contaminated areas in East Palestine and do so on an expedited basis. If Norfolk Southern refused, the EPA would clean up the chemical spill and charge Norfolk Southern triple the cost.

In April, Norfolk Southern reported that the cleanup process in East Palestine from the February train derailment cost the company $387 million in first quarter losses. The cleanup costs are expected to top $500 million, which is more than ten times the amount that has been spent to clean up the contaminated neighborhoods in North Birmingham and Tarrant.


In East Palestine, white lives mattered to everybody. Furthermore, the city's public officials, community leaders and influencers did not sell out the residents of East Palestine.

In North Birmingham and Tarrant, black lives did not matter to anybody. The sellout was total and complete.


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