The Poor Facing Grime and Filth, Followed by a Train (2017-2021)
by Philip Poretsky
In 2017, cargo from a New York train, carrying waste, made its home in the small town of Parrish Alabama. The stench – atrocious, disrupting daily life, and even inviting some insects to come and frolic. However, this was not a one time occurrence; the train would always go by Parrish to a Landfill close by, generously sharing its stench of 100 million pounds of human waste with the town. The reason? Because of it being less costly to dump Northern waste in the less costly south, going past state borders and making it someone else’s problem, all to save a dime. Here, we will explore how small towns in the midwest have fought against large powers, especially when the opposition are larger, more well-to-do states, as well why these larger states attempt to take such invasive advances on midwestern areas. We will seek to answer questions such as: why are trains traveling with human waste, and why would they travel to the Midwest? Are there better solutions besides hauling a train full of sewage? This project will put to light how these small midwestern areas are taken advantage of by larger powers, be it by law or other reasons.
Introduction: Followed by a Train
A steel giant roamed the lands of Alabama. Folks of a small town remember what occurred in the hot spring of 2017. They remember the grinding wheels and bellowing of this beast’s horns. It traveled through the train tracks, carrying with it an acrid stench as it stayed within this small town’s domain. Within the steel cargo cars, waste and rot lingered; its smell called for nasty critters, attracting them with the smell of death and something nasty. The stench truly terrorized the inhabitants here, disrupting the life that goes on in Parrish, the poor rural town assaulted by a train filled with waste.
A train from the New York area, filled with human waste, travels down to Parrish, Alabama. The residents of this poor rural town of little renown had little interaction with this train, though something occurred; a town of greater wealth, to where the – as it is referenced – the ‘Poop Train’ began to enforce laws that would force it to move; after traveling around to other towns, it ended up in Parrish. The people of this town were unable to do much as this large mass sat on their railyards, festering fecal matter to be unloaded and sent off elsewhere; a landfill nearby.[ii] They were left to struggle, contend and endure the ‘Poop’ Train’s unwelcome stay.
We will explore questions pertaining to the Train’s Presence in Alabama, why is it there? Why is it dumping waste in Alabama and not in New York? Why is it squatting in Parrish? We will also look at Parrish and the area around it. What factors caused Parrish to deal with a train staying there? What could Parrish have done to avoid the train, and why did they not do such? How did the civilians feel about this? How did Parrish handle the train? What was the outcome? In reality, it can be argued that the Poop Train was in Parrish due to its lack of wealth and zoning legislation.
This research paper will explore Parrish and its encounter with the ‘Poop’ Train. We will first look at the Train, exploring its origin and purpose. Likewise we will look at background factors that caused it to be in Parrish, such as prices and certain regulations. There is of course a larger meaning behind all of this, namely Southern states being dump sites, which will be briefly analyzed. We will also look at Parrish and the general area, albeit with more of a focus on Parrish and its wealth and legislation. It is important to show other towns that faced this Train as they act as a means of assisting Parrish.
Background: The Poop Struggle
Human Waste is carried along to Alabama. It is guided along by rails, and encased in steel from a train’s cargo. This Train carries human waste down South, more specifically Alabama. It travels down to a landfill run by Big Sky Environmental, where the human waste is set to rest. This train hails from New York, carrying collective waste from both New York and New Jersey, with the amount of waste in the train weighing around 5000 tons.[iii] Let that sink in, 10 million pounds of human waste on a cargo train that is traveling down to a landfill in Alabama. This train has been going down that route for some time, as Big Sky Environmental – a local landfill company – has been accepting them since 2017. In doing so, it passes by a couple of townships, Adamsville, West Jefferson Union Town, and of course, our beloved Parrish. The Train only briefly went through Parrish at first, relying on West Jefferson to ferry the waste, removing the sludge from their steel cages and loading them into trucks, sending them off to Big Sky Landfill. Though, the smell and effects were still felt. “The sludge “smells of dead rotting animals as well as human waste,” West Jefferson’s attorney said in a lawsuit against Big Sky Environmental LLC. It also caused the community to become “infested with flies,” the complaint states”.[iv] Events unfolded, West Jefferson managed to kick the Poop Train out, though this proved a problem for Parrish. The train then advanced on them, setting up shop and so graciously gracing them with the same treatment as West Jefferson.
Disposing of waste – not just human fecal matter – in southern states is not an uncommon occurrence. Alabama and other southern states are treated like a toilet for other states. Millions of pounds of trash go to those states where they find their resting place in landfills or incinerators.[v] This is often caused by lax zoning laws being taken advantage of by other states, and officials attempting to make money off allowing other states with more restrictive dumping and zoning laws to use their land for the purposes of dumping. Not only that, but the poor and rural towns where the landfills are set up are the more economically undesirable due to not generating a lot of revenue and migrants. This implies it is much more logical to place a landfill near such towns as opposed to big cities, a study conducted by The University Michigan shows “Minorities and low-income communities are seen as the path of least resistance because they have fewer resources and political clout to oppose the siting of unwanted facilities”.[vi] This matches Parrish, being a poor rural town with lax zoning laws, causing it to have to deal with the Poop Train, and some unsavory actors.
The reason why this train is going all the way to the south, not just because of zoning, but also regulations regarding human waste. Human waste, referred to as ‘biosolids’ by the EPA, were once dumped into rivers, without any treatment. There was one instance where, according to the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, “Boaters once contaminated a U.S. Gulf Coast waterway by dumping human waste overboard. Oysters harvested from that area caused a norovirus outbreak that sickened 200 people across 6 states”.[vii] This can pose a huge problem as human waste can carry a lot of disease; thus the EPA proposed regulations for treating and disposing of the waste. Live Science states that “through regulation of this dumping, local governments [are] now required to treat wastewater and to make the decision whether to recycle biosolids as fertilizer, incinerate it or bury it in a landfill”.[viii] Of course, this is a good thing, as it avoids adverse effects as previously described. However, one must ask the question, who wants that in their town or state? Especially where said state has many cities. Very few do. Strict zoning regulations can accrue quite a penny, likewise the getting the land and permits can be incredibly expensive. This is the case for New York, where Int-53, a law to prevent waste dumping is in place. Enter the south, where there are lax zoning laws, and inexpensive land. This was prime time to send a train chugging along, doing its duty.
Big Sky now enters the scene. A landfill with 1525 acres of land, the recipient of New Yorker Poop. By taking this processed poop, they can use it to help their goal, using refined waste to help the land, and according to their mission statement, making the environment better for the communities and future generations.[ix] With a permit from the local Government, Big Sky was able to receive the poop, allowing the Train to travel down south and deliver. All there was after this was to deal with the zoning regulations in Alabama, which eventually led us to our fighter — Parrish — once again.
Permits and Zoning Galore
arrish is a small town near Route 22. A rural town of roughly 1,000, located in Walker County, Alabama. It is a town of some diversity, with a demographic of 70 percent White, 24 percent black, and 5 percent Hispanic and other. It is not a wealthy town, with the median household income being 35,625 dollars; it is not surprising the poverty rate is around 17 percent.[xi] They were one a mining town, but when the mine closed in the 80s, tragedy struck. The town was at a low point. While this town may be small and poor, life still flourishes with its own events and activities. However, this can easily be taken advantage of by greater powers. The train, and legislation.
It would be an understatement to say that the Town of Parrish was wholly underprepared for all that was to come. Never did they need to worry about zoning laws as this small, poor town of roughly a thousand got very little traffic, if anything it was folks passing by on Route 22. So, what are they to do when a train rolls up on its railways without any notice? The residents did not need to be informed; after all, they are but a small town that happens to be next to a railyard. Furthermore, the lack of zoning laws meant that they could not do much in terms of enforcing anything. Given the railway is within town borders, Parrish does have a right to enforce zoning laws on it; the train should have been subject to zoning laws.
Parrish was unable to do much in regards to this. They lacked the zoning laws to deal with the squatting train. The purpose of zoning laws is to be able to regulate land in that municipality. Due to the lack of zoning laws, there is no way to enforce something opening up shop on one’s borders. This was something the train took advantage of, as Parrish really had no means of countering this advance. They could have put taxes on the train, or ultimately forced the train to move by denying them the ability to use their tracks.
We can see this occur in towns nearby Parrish. One town we could look at is Adamsville. This was where the train was initially, allowing trucks to pick up the human waste and bring it to Big Sky, which was quite close to Adamsville. Their demographics are far more diverse than Parrish, with a 48% non-white population.[xii] However, due to the existence of their zoning laws, they were able to block the train from staying on their railway. Of course, this caused the train to move around and face the same action in towns such as West Jefferson, who obtained an injunction, which eventually forced the Train’s hand, moving it to Parrish.
Of course, regulations aside from the towns. Officials stand to gain from this waste. The ‘Poop’ Train must pay the toll for their duty. Every ton of waste is charged by Blue Sky, with this money going back to the pockets of government officials.[xiii] This is why we often find these Landfills in cheap and poverty stricken areas, much like Blue Sky being next to both Parrish and Adamsville, where the poverty rates are fairly high. According to Nelson Brooke of the Black River Riverkeeper Organization “You take a poor rural area, take advantage of the people and turn their farming land into a dumping ground so a few people can make a profit,” Adding that “Parts of our state have been turned into a toilet bowl and there isn’t the political spine to stop it”.[xiv] There is very little incentive to help or relieve Parrish of its squatting problem. The train that is infringing on their land generates income for the state, and it is not like Parrish is much of a tourist spot either. It is a far out and small town. There is little to do there for anyone coming by; they are out of sight and out of mind, betrayed by their own people to get some cash for the coffers.
Money speaks volumes, especially when a large government body requires specific regulations, and states provide their own laws to make certain dealings of Poop much more costly. Parrish and its lack of zoning laws was the ideal target to take advantage of; where other towns could enforce their laws, Parrish could not. While this was an oversight on Parrish’s part, one needs to still have some grit and coin to deal with stranded poop. While some media sites that pertain to Alabama news wrote about the current incident, many swept it under the rug. It is a poor town, for all one could guess – they would simply have to deal with the poop. In truth, the people of Parrish had a very long road of struggles ahead of them.
The image above shows the train on the way to its destination. It screams and roars as it moves in on Parrish’s railyard, to send its fecal matter to Big Sky. The dull scenery and view point spells a sense of hopelessness. The massive beast of waste treads on their land, backed by the wealth of the state. Parrish has little against this Train; their battle is uphill from here. The lack of zoning laws and wealth put them at a great disadvantage and it seemed hopeless; there was already resentment within Parrish, “It felt like the Northerners were trying to pile messes on the Southerners”, remarked Michelle Buford, a Parrish civilian.[xvi]
While at first, the stench was not as bad, as the heat had not yet rolled in, there was still some stench during the hot times of the day. It raised quite the stink, often referred to as the stench of death.[xvii] The positioning of the railyard was not ideal, as many individuals needed to cross it to get to other parts of town, specifically the fields used for baseball. The stench was unavoidable, and when it got windy – that was when things really started to ramp up. “You can’t open your door because that stuff gets in your house,” Robert Hall, a Parrish Resident stated to the local news.[xviii] There was a growing pressure and dejection in this town, flies began to fill the town as well; and many folks questioned whether or not it was a health issue.[xix] Something needed to be done, this town was not going to be the doormat for New York any longer; a growing determination festering within the people. “Would New York City like for us to send all our poop up there forever?” Asked Parrish Mayor Heather Hall in an interview with the Associated Press.[xx] The stench could only get worse as the summer heat grows, and it already disrupted town events, with resident’s peace of mind hindered by stench and insects.
Time was of the essence, especially as the summer heat closed in; the stench would only get greater and would further disturb Parrish’s peace of mind. Heather Hall – the mayor of Parrish – went to work. “As soon as I found out, I was on the phone to Montgomery, to the Alabama Department of Environmental Management, even to the president,” Hall reported to the Washington Post.[xxi] Phone calls and emails were sent out to every bit of power that could possibly reside over this situation, from the Governor, to the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM). Their hands were tied however. It was like hitting a brick wall for Hall as the powers that be would say it was out of their hands. [xxii] Big Sky, the waste dump, refused to comment to the people of Parrish, and they did not necessarily need to. They had a permit obtained in 2016 that would allow them to continue to accept New Yorker biosolids.[xxiii] They put very little concern to a small mining town of little wealth, saying that they could not regulate the smell, as it was not a health issue. Hall and Parrish were in a rough spot.
The heat closed in. The stench was even worse. The phone calls and emails went nowhere. In the meanwhile, this town had their own town meetings, beginning to draft simple Zoning laws that may aid them. Though, that would not be enough. The addition of these new laws could not be enforced before the summer heat would hit. Hall went to various national media sources.[xxiv] She spoke about the ‘Poop’ Train and their situation. However, this would not be taken that seriously. Hall felt that they slipped under the cracks.[xxv] They were the tail end of a foul joke.
Parrish needed allies to help them, and luckily enough for the town – many other small towns in the area had faced similar situations. West Jefferson, Adamsville – these are but a few names of the towns that dealt with the same issue.[xxvi] None of them wanted the fecal matter – treated or not – of other states in their yard. Hall and the leaders of these towns facing similar situations would often come together and deliberate. However, they had allies in other places. The Black Warrior Riverkeepers.
The Riverkeepers are an environmental protection organization. They are national, and have a great deal of power, being the spearhead that caused New York to cease dumping waste in its rivers. A cell of the group – The Black Warrior Riverkeepers – They were after Big Sky Environmental, opposing them every time they sought to get permits.[xxvii] They had received complaints from the varying towns about the railroads, and pushed the ADEM to enact restrictions on Big Sky.[xxviii]
The Riverkeepers, combined with Parrish people attending hearings and reaching out to online media, and the community to back them – were able to cause the Train to back down. Big Sky would no longer receive New Yorker biosolids. Parrish was able to hold a special council meeting, saying that there was no proper business permit to be able to set the waste-filled cargo on the train tracks. They were given three weeks to remove the waste, with trucks coming to unload the poop train’s cargo and return it to where it belongs – some place not in Parrish’s yard. Truly, Parrish was blessed by the aid of others, where a small town in hard times would have a difficult problem fighting against greater powers.
To Modern Times
The Remnants of the ‘Poop Train’, the waste filled cargo cars were empty and no more. This town no longer has to worry about the offensive stench and fetid flies; they can once more enjoy the scent of barbeque. Mayor Hall thanked all those that supported her town in their endeavors, saying that the battle was long and hard. However, there is still a bitter taste in these people’s mouths.[xxix] The East Coast sending waste to them was not ideal. However, New York has discontinued sending Waste to Big Sky.[xxx] In the meanwhile, New York has elected to enact a “Zero Waste” Policy, with the intent of removing the need for landfills by 2030.[xxxi]
This issue, this story of waste and landfills – it does not end with Parrish. There are other towns that face the same discrimination. “While what happened in Parrish was, to our understanding, an unprecedented event, there are [still] small towns like Parrish fighting this situation on a smaller scale,” Hall Remarked.[xxxii] These poor towns are subject to environmental discrimination, where higher powers believe that they are too weak to fight back.[xxxiii] By looking at Parrish, perhaps it will give other small towns that face a similar situation the drive and hope to fight back against powers greater than them, in the face of Environmental Injustice.
[i] Colin Dwyer, “The Poop Train’s Reign of Terror in Small-Town Alabama Has Ended,” NPR (NPR, April 18, 2018), https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2018/04/18/603718526/the-poop-trains-reign-of-terror-in-small-town-alabama-has-ended
[ii] Colin Dwyer, “The Poop Train’s Reign of Terror in Small-Town Alabama Has Ended,” NPR (NPR, April 18, 2018), https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2018/04/18/603718526/the-poop-trains-reign-of-terror-in-small-town-alabama-has-ended
[iii] Jeff Martin, “’Poop Train’ Full of NYC Sewage Raises Stink in Alabama Town,” AP NEWS (Associated Press, April 18, 2018), https://apnews.com/article/north-america-tx-state-wire-new-york-fl-state-wire-ny-state-wire-28f5b0563b1441b6ac5d29f7dfd7f5f7.
[iv] Jeff Martin, “’Poop Train’ Full of NYC Sewage Raises Stink in Alabama Town,” AP NEWS (Associated Press, April 18, 2018), https://apnews.com/article/north-america-tx-state-wire-new-york-fl-state-wire-ny-state-wire-28f5b0563b1441b6ac5d29f7dfd7f5f7
[v] Lyndsey Gilpin, “Why the Rural South Is Still Being Treated as America’s Toilet Bowl,” Scalawag, September 16, 2020, https://scalawagmagazine.org/2018/05/why-the-rural-south-is-still-being-treated-as-americas-toilet-bowl/.
[vi] Jim Erikson, “Targeting Minority, Low-Income Neighborhoods for Hazardous Waste Sites,” University of Michigan News, January 19, 2016, https://news.umich.edu/targeting-minority-low-income-neighborhoods-for-hazardous-waste-sites/.
[vii] “Don’t Poo in the Blue… Human Sewage in the Ocean Can Cause Human Illnesses.” Accessed December 13, 2021. https://nifa.usda.gov/sites/default/files/resource/Human%20Sewage%20in%20Water%20Infosheet.pdf.
[viii] Laura Geggel, “Why Is a Train Filled with Human Poop Stuck Outside This Alabama Town?,” LiveScience (Purch, April 19, 2018), https://www.livescience.com/62349-poop-train-biosolids.html.
[ix] “About Us,” bigskyenv, accessed December 14, 2021, https://www.bigskyenv.com/about_us.
[x] Daniel Victor, “Free of New York’s Stinky Sludge Train, an Alabama Town Is Still Steaming,” The New York Times (The New York Times, April 19, 2018), https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/19/nyregion/poop-train-alabama.html.
[xi] “Parrish, AL,” Data USA, accessed December 14, 2021, https://datausa.io/profile/geo/parrish-al.
[xii] “Adamsville, Al,” Data USA, accessed December 14, 2021, https://datausa.io/profile/geo/adamsville-al.
[xiii] Oliver Milman, “’We’re Not a Dump’ – Poor Alabama Towns Struggle under the Stench of Toxic Landfills,” The Guardian (Guardian News and Media, April 15, 2019), https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/apr/15/were-not-a-dump-poor-alabama-towns-struggle-under-the-stench-of-toxic-landfills.
[xiv] Colin Dwyer, “The Poop Train’s Reign of Terror in Small-Town Alabama Has Ended,” NPR (NPR, April 18, 2018), https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2018/04/18/603718526/the-poop-trains-reign-of-terror-in-small-town-alabama-has-ended
[xv] Brittany Dionne, “Infamous ‘Poop Train’ Could Roll Back into West Jefferson County,” https://www.wbrc.com, accessed December 14, 2021, https://www.wbrc.com/2020/01/07/infamous-poop-train-could-roll-back-into-west-jefferson-county/.
[xvi] WVTM 13 Digital and Hearst Television Inc., “Residents in Parrish, Alabama Say New York Sludge Rail Cars ‘Smell like Dead Bodies,’” WVTM (WVTM, March 14, 2018), http://www.wvtm13.com/article/new-york-rail-cars-leave-parrish-alabama-smelling-like-dead-bodies/19426800.
[xvii] Colin Dwyer, “The Poop Train’s Reign of Terror in Small-Town Alabama Has Ended,” NPR (NPR, April 18, 2018), https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2018/04/18/603718526/the-poop-trains-reign-of-terror-in-small-town-alabama-has-ended
[xviii] Jacob Pinter, “What to Do about the Poo Choo-Choo? Alabama Town Deals with a Smelly Situation,” NPR (NPR, April 7, 2018), https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2018/04/07/600540644/what-to-do-about-the-poo-choo-choo-alabama-town-deals-with-a-smelly-situation.
[xix] Brittany Dionne, “Infamous ‘Poop Train’ Could Roll Back into West Jefferson County,” https://www.wbrc.com, accessed December 14, 2021, https://www.wbrc.com/2020/01/07/infamous-poop-train-could-roll-back-into-west-jefferson-county/.
[xx] Jeff Martin, “’Poop Train’ Full of NYC Sewage Raises Stink in Alabama Town,” AP NEWS (Associated Press, April 18, 2018), https://apnews.com/article/north-america-tx-state-wire-new-york-fl-state-wire-ny-state-wire-28f5b0563b1441b6ac5d29f7dfd7f5f7.
[xxi] Erin Shaw Street, “A ‘Poop Train’ from New York Befouled a Small Alabama Town, until the Town Fought Back,” The Washington Post (WP Company, October 26, 2021), https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2018/04/20/a-poop-train-from-new-york-befouled-a-small-alabama-town-until-the-town-fought-back/.
[xxii] Colin Dwyer, “The Poop Train’s Reign of Terror in Small-Town Alabama Has Ended,” NPR (NPR, April 18, 2018), https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2018/04/18/603718526/the-poop-trains-reign-of-terror-in-small-town-alabama-has-ended
[xxiii] Colin Dwyer, “The Poop Train’s Reign of Terror in Small-Town Alabama Has Ended,” NPR (NPR, April 18, 2018), https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2018/04/18/603718526/the-poop-trains-reign-of-terror-in-small-town-alabama-has-ended
[xxiv] Dennis Pillion, “New York Poop Train Won’t Derail Parrish Coal Fest,” al, April 6, 2018, https://www.al.com/news/2018/04/new_york_poop_train_wont_derai.html.
[xxv] Colin Dwyer, “The Poop Train’s Reign of Terror in Small-Town Alabama Has Ended,” NPR (NPR, April 18, 2018), https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2018/04/18/603718526/the-poop-trains-reign-of-terror-in-small-town-alabama-has-ended
[xxvi] WVTM 13 Digital and Hearst Television Inc., “Residents in Parrish, Alabama Say New York Sludge Rail Cars ‘Smell like Dead Bodies,’” WVTM (WVTM, March 14, 2018), http://www.wvtm13.com/article/new-york-rail-cars-leave-parrish-alabama-smelling-like-dead-bodies/19426800.
[xxvii] Colin Dwyer, “The Poop Train’s Reign of Terror in Small-Town Alabama Has Ended,” NPR (NPR, April 18, 2018), https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2018/04/18/603718526/the-poop-trains-reign-of-terror-in-small-town-alabama-has-ended
[xxviii] “Alabama Sewage Rules Significantly Improve Thanks to …,” accessed December 14, 2021, https://blackwarriorriver.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/BWRk_Newsletter_Part2_2017.pdf.
[xxix] Daniel Victor, “Free of New York’s Stinky Sludge Train, an Alabama Town Is Still Steaming,” The New York Times (The New York Times, April 19, 2018), https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/19/nyregion/poop-train-alabama.html.
[xxx] Daniel Victor, “Free of New York’s Stinky Sludge Train, an Alabama Town Is Still Steaming,” The New York Times (The New York Times, April 19, 2018), https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/19/nyregion/poop-train-alabama.html.
[xxxi] “Welcome to Nyc.gov | City of New York,” accessed December 14, 2021, https://www.nyc.gov/html/onenyc/downloads/pdf/publications/OneNYC.pdf.
[xxxii] Colin Dwyer, “The Poop Train’s Reign of Terror in Small-Town Alabama Has Ended,” NPR (NPR, April 18, 2018), https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2018/04/18/603718526/the-poop-trains-reign-of-terror-in-small-town-alabama-has-ended
[xxxiii] Jeff Martin, “’Poop Train’ Full of NYC Sewage Raises Stink in Alabama Town,” AP NEWS (Associated Press, April 18, 2018), https://apnews.com/article/north-america-tx-state-wire-new-york-fl-state-wire-ny-state-wire-28f5b0563b1441b6ac5d29f7dfd7f5f7
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Digital, WVTM 13, and Hearst Television Inc. “Residents in Parrish, Alabama Say New York Sludge Rail Cars ‘Smell like Dead Bodies.’” WVTM. WVTM, March 14, 2018. http://www.wvtm13.com/article/new-york-rail-cars-leave-parrish-alabama-smelling-like-dead-bodies/19426800.
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“Don’t Poo in the Blue… Human Sewage in the Ocean Can Cause Human Illnesses.” Accessed December 13, 2021. https://nifa.usda.gov/sites/default/files/resource/Human%20Sewage%20in%20Water%20Infosheet.pdf.
Dwyer, Colin. “The Poop Train’s Reign of Terror in Small-Town Alabama Has Ended.” NPR. NPR, April 18, 2018. https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2018/04/18/603718526/the-poop-trains-reign-of-terror-in-small-town-alabama-has-ended.
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Geggel, Laura. “Why Is a Train Filled with Human Poop Stuck Outside This Alabama Town?” LiveScience. Purch, April 19, 2018. https://www.livescience.com/62349-poop-train-biosolids.html.
Gilpin, Lyndsey. “Why the Rural South Is Still Being Treated as America’s Toilet Bowl.” Scalawag, September 16, 2020. https://scalawagmagazine.org/2018/05/why-the-rural-south-is-still-being-treated-as-americas-toilet-bowl/.
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Martin, Jeff. “’Poop Train’ Full of NYC Sewage Raises Stink in Alabama Town.” AP NEWS. Associated Press, April 18, 2018. https://apnews.com/article/north-america-tx-state-wire-new-york-fl-state-wire-ny-state-wire-28f5b0563b1441b6ac5d29f7dfd7f5f7.
Milman, Oliver. “’We’re Not a Dump’ – Poor Alabama Towns Struggle under the Stench of Toxic Landfills.” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, April 15, 2019. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/apr/15/were-not-a-dump-poor-alabama-towns-struggle-under-the-stench-of-toxic-landfills.
Ortiz, Erik. “’Poop Train’ Carrying Human Waste Cleared after Months Squatting in Alabama Town.” NBCNews.com. NBCUniversal News Group, April 20, 2018. https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/poop-train-carrying-human-waste-cleared-after-months-squatting-alabama-n867426.
“Parrish, AL.” Data USA. Accessed December 14, 2021. https://datausa.io/profile/geo/parrish-al.
Pillion, Dennis. “New York Poop Train Won’t Derail Parrish Coal Fest.” al, April 6, 2018. https://www.al.com/news/2018/04/new_york_poop_train_wont_derai.html.
Pinter, Jacob. “What to Do about the Poo Choo-Choo? Alabama Town Deals with a Smelly Situation.” NPR. NPR, April 7, 2018. https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2018/04/07/600540644/what-to-do-about-the-poo-choo-choo-alabama-town-deals-with-a-smelly-situation.
Street, Erin Shaw. “A ‘Poop Train’ from New York Befouled a Small Alabama Town, until the Town Fought Back.” The Washington Post. WP Company, October 26, 2021. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2018/04/20/a-poop-train-from-new-york-befouled-a-small-alabama-town-until-the-town-fought-back/.
Victor, Daniel. “Free of New York’s Stinky Sludge Train, an Alabama Town Is Still Steaming.” The New York Times. The New York Times, April 19, 2018. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/19/nyregion/poop-train-alabama.html.
“Welcome to Nyc.gov | City of New York.” Accessed December 14, 2021. https://www.nyc.gov/html/onenyc/downloads/pdf/publications/OneNYC.pdf.
- Associated Press, “Poop Train’ Full of NYC sewage raises stink in Alabama”, Jeff Martin and Jay Reeves (4/18/2018). https://apnews.com/article/north-america-tx-state-wire-new-york-fl-state-wire-ny-state-wire-28f5b0563b1441b6ac5d29f7dfd7f5f7
- This page has an overview of the events pertaining to the train in Parrish Alabama
- A news source that covers a wide breadth of topics. This report provides some internal perspective regarding the denizens of the town, as well as a broader topic of southern states being used as ‘dumping grounds’. We see their reactions to the awful stench of the train, even from the mayor. It goes on to describe how the citizens feel about the ordeal. This serves to benefit the piece by providing issues from both denizens and officials; allowing one to explore these topics further.
- Throughout the piece, snippets of town residents reacting to the waste is prominent. They describe the awful scent, likening it to death, “The sludge “smells of dead rotting animals as well as human waste,” West Jefferson’s attorney said in a lawsuit against Big Sky Environmental LLC. It also caused the community to become “infested with flies,” the complaint states.”. While this quote comes from one person, the sentiment is shared throughout the town; going so far to postpone events because of the awful stench. In addition, there is a claim of this occurring because more wealthier states want to use poorer communities to their advantage, abusing zoning laws even. As West Jefferson’s attorney puts it “It’s easy for them to zip into a rural or poor community and set up shop and start making a ton of cash”. This leads to something a little bigger, which is very interesting. Officials go on to state that southern states are like dumping grounds for waste, going on to describe another landfill in West Alabama — filled with more toxic materials — as ‘America’s Pay Toilet’. There is a lot to unravel here.
- Livescience “Why is a Train Filled with Human Poop Stuck Outside this Alabama Town?” Laura Geggel, (4/19/18) https://www.livescience.com/62349-poop-train-biosolids.html, going over some terminology and laws regarding Biosolids (waste) as well as zoning laws.
- Livescience describes not only issues in the town, but makes some claims regarding the materials on the Poop Train. They dive into the classification of biosolids, and explain how that might affect the reason why the train is going in the first place. In addition, it speaks about certain laws and regulations which can affect one’s decision as to what to do with waste. There is a fair bit to cover here, and the material on the waste as well as the effects of laws, can shed some light on the situation, as well as provide alternatives to the poop train.
- Livescience keeps a scientific approach, describing what exactly poop is classified as by the EPA, and regulations that pertain to that. In addition, they bring up the scenario of using this waste as fertilizer rather than sending it to a landfill and burning it. They go on to bring up the regulations prior to what we have currently — either incineration or fertilizer — which was dumping this waste in rivers. To return back to the choice between recycling or incineration, Livescience notes that states can often have certain restrictions on how the dumping or processing is handled, which allows us to shed further light as to why they decided to go southward to Alabama.
3. News 4, “‘Poop Train ‘ could roll back into Alabama” Brittany Dione (1/7/2020) the article linked below describes some of the legislations and interactions with the Landfill and powers that be.
- This piece will assist in going over some of the interactions between landfill, train and civilians. In fact, the piece even references a hearing that was going to occur regarding the train. The information in this piece mostly goes over the Big Sky landfill and the towns affected by the Sewage train, as well as how ADEM (the department of environmental management) responded to complaints regarding the train. This piece can provide further insight as to how civilians fought back.
- A lot of this piece goes on to describe how Alabama residents fought back the train. THere are instances of a town enforcing zoning laws, showing their resistance against the Train; causing it to move around and eventually be recalled back. It even goes on to describe interactions with the state and residents, with a West Jefferson mayor having to go to the ADEM (Alabama Department of Environmental Management). It even goes on to show a sense of comradery between towns, with officials trying to reach out to form a stronger alliance to fight the train, and gain a larger support to speak with the ADEM, as they have quite some say in the waste management of the state. In general, there seems to be a lot of interesting things to build off here, with the possibility of exploring other towns and their fight.
- Associated Press, “Poop Train’ Full of NYC sewage raises stink in Alabama”. This page has an overview of the events pertaining to the train in Parrish Alabama https://apnews.com/article/north-america-tx-state-wire-new-york-fl-state-wire-ny-state-wire-28f5b0563b1441b6ac5d29f7dfd7f5f7
- A news source that covers a wide breadth of topics. I feel as though The Times can provide more of an outside perspective to the piece. This is mostly due to them being removed from the whole ordeal. The site, specifically the article which goes over the Poop Train, does have some snippets which can be used for further research; even having a portion where the mayor of a small town affected by the train provides an internal perspective, which while not befitting of a secondary source, can prove quite useful in further crafting my paper.
- https://www.livescience.com/62349-poop-train-biosolids.html, Published by Livescience, going over some terminology and laws regarding Biosolids (waste) as well as zoning laws.
- This resource covers a range of topics, and luckily, the poop train. Livescience focuses on the more scientific approach, seemingly without bias as it goes over the situation with the poop train. It even touches on the lax zoning laws one might find in the midwest. In general, I feel this article has a lot of breadth, and does so without leaning one way or the other in terms of narrative.
- News 4, the article linked below describes some of the legislations and interactions with the Landfill and powers that be.
- This piece will assist in going over some of the interactions between landfill and civilians. Infact, the piece even references a hearing that was going to occur regarding the train. The information in this piece mostly goes over the Big Sky landfill and the towns affected by the Sewage train, as well as how ADEM (the department of environmental management) responded to complaints regarding the train.