Coalition addresses concerns about contamination

A North Birmingham resident expressed his frustrations during a meeting with EPA officials and Walter Coke representatives Thursday night. (

People in North Birmingham are taking a step toward cleaning up problems from pollution. They say pollutants from the Walter Coke plant in North Birmingham are to blame for illnesses.

Neighbors say a black residue is on their homes and businesses. There's{}{}confusion on if it's contaminated and what the dangers are but neighbors say they're not waiting around to find out.{}"I don't think anyone in their right mind would want to come and rebuild without knowing that this situation has been conquered," one neighbor said during the meeting.Neighbors are taking matters into their own hands - forming a coalition aimed at helping cleanup North Birmingham.{}"The only thing I can do is put the hose on it," Charles Barber, Jr. who lives in Collegeville said."I just look forward to the revitalization of the communities," another resident said."The Coalition is a body of people who can help to address those various concerns," James Pinkney, EPA Public Affairs officer said."It's just like a cake. It's dusty," Barber said.Charles Barber Jr. has spent all his life in Collegeville and with each passing year, new health problems emerge."I have respiratory problems and things like this," he said. "I have purchased respiratory things and humidifiers to try to make my life much better."The agency brought in by Walter Coke found no contamination. But the EPA says there IS contamination. And much more testing needs to be done.Neighbors here are now making a list of what the coalition needs to focus on to help them move on. They prioritized medical care, access to healthy fresh foods, and added housing.{}"The Coalition will help bring together the communities to address the environmental concerns in the community," Pinkney said. "It will also allow them to have one voice to address community concerns rather than going to meetings and talking about separate things, we'll have everyone there at one time."