North Birmingham residents hear information on soil sampling

North Birmingham residents living near the Walter Coke Plant want answers to the pollution problem in the area. (

People from Northern Birmingham are getting answers about a pollution problem. They met with researchers for an overview of a health review of pollution from the Walter Coke Plant. The data was collected by a contractor for Walter Coke.

An agency that analyzes environmental data basically told people soil samples collected in 2005 and 2009 from properties around the plant are not contaminated.. but this isn't giving everyone peace of mind.

"It's been a battle."

Vivian Starks says she and other neighbors living near the Walter Coke plant are battling health problems.. black dust.. and.. "Sometimes you can't even breathe when you come out. It's totally ridiculous."

She's seen neighbors move because of pollution. And after five years of meetings about the situation, Starks wants some answers. "We've been told we're contaminated, some say we're not contaminated, so we want to know are we contaminated, what is it in the air"

Starks and others did not hear about air quality Tuesday night, but the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry has this to say about the soil. Dr. Mark Evans says "Based on samples collected in 2005 and 2009, it's not a public health hazard."

With one exception- that's if a child eats a large amount of soil. But not everyone is content with the finding including Starks. "There's nothing to make me believe we're not contaminated. This close to a factory and other plants we have to be contaminated."

More sampling is underway and the ATSDR is now in the process of evaluating air data collected over several years and will also look at cumulative soil and air exposures.

Starks says "We just want to live like everybody else."

The EPA says there are some properties in consideration for clean-up and that will be determined after more sampling is finished.

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