Neighbors hope documentary on Birmingham pollution brings change

The stories of people living in North Birmingham, Collegeville, and Harriman Park are being heard around the Magic City. A documentary is chronicling the pollution and health effects from local coal fired power plants premiered Thursday night at the Carver Theater. Pollution, serious health concerns, and contaminated soil are the main concerns. The organization "GASP" or "Greater Birmingham Alliance to Stop Pollution" is behind this project.[Watch the full trailer for Toxic City at the bottom of this story.]"Puts us in the top 25 dirtiest air cities in the country. It's a problem economically and a problem for our health," Dr. Stacie Propst, Executive Director, GASP said."The smell sometimes can be very awful," Randall Brooks, who lives in North Birmingham said. "It's a very bad smell.""There will be black soot on your window - when you wash it off, you might have to wash it two or three times before you get it off," Minnie McCurdy, who lives in North Birmingham said.It's for residents like Minnie and Randall - that GASP made the documentary. which was produced by local filmmaker Hunter Nichols."Telling the story of the people dealing with this kind of tragedy, this kind of disaster, is a very effective way of reaching people outside those communities," Dr. Propst said.The pollution is visible everywhere. On homes, cars, and windows."Especially when it's windy and it runs across your nose, it's real bad. It's real bad," Brooks said."My grand baby - she has asthma real bad and she can't be out here," McCurdy said. "If she's out here she'll be out here for one second and go back in the house."The plants operate 24-7 in North Birmingham, but toxicologists say their impact extends much further."The air pollution coming out of those communities is not staying in those communities," Dr. Propst said. "That air pollution is traveling over the mountain, it is traveling all throughout the greater Birmingham metro area. As a matter of fact, Birmingham has some of the dirtiest air in the country."The plan now is to take the documentary to civic groups, businesses, and organizations around the state. {}Ultimately hoping to encourage the EPA to increase the amount of work it's doing to clean up North Birmingham. {}