EPA names companies possibly responsible for pollution

The Environmental Protection Agency has five Birmingham companies in its sights for "possible" pollution and contamination of some north Birmingham neighborhoods. {}

Each of the companies received a letteR from the E.P.A. this week, advising them they "may be" responsible for clean up of the sites.

The E.P.A. letter lists Alabama Gas Corporation, Drummond Company, KMAC Services, Walter Coke, and U.S. Pipe as potentially responsible parties which "may" be required to cleanup and pay for costs incurred by the E.P.A.

It's not a done deal. But, councilwoman Maxine Parker, who represents the district sees this as a positive step forward for these communities.

"I think this is the first step in getting it resolved," says Parker. "We look forward to it being resolved for our citizens so we can have a healthy quality of life, and we do deserve that in the north Birmingham community."

Anita Davis with the E.P.A. says, the letters sent to five companies state that 'based on information presently available to the E.P.A, that the potentially responsible parties may be responsible for cleanup.'Davis explains, a potentially responsible party can include -- current and former owners and operators of a site -- anyone who arranged for disposal of hazardous materials found at the site, and anyone who accepted hazardous materials transported to the site.

She wants to clarify that right now, none of the companies is deemed responsible. "The designation of actually calling someone a responsible party requires a court decision, so until you get to a point where you litigate a mater, that's a legal decision," says Davis.The five companies have two weeks to respond to the letter sent.

The E.P.A. is encouraging them to meet and discuss the matter further.

If the companies don't respond properly, they could face legal ramifications. "We will talk about the cleanup, what we see as the problems that need to be addressed and work with them on developing a work plan and if they decide they want to take on the lead in doing the cleanup," Davis says.