To highlight the nation's continuing toxic dumping problem in African American communities, civil rights, faith based, environmental justice, and health leaders from around the country are planning a rally in Dickson, Tennessee on Labor Day weekend Saturday, September 5. Dickson is located about 35 miles west of Nashville.
Organizers of the rally chose to highlight the struggle of the African American Harry Holt family--the "poster child" for toxic racism. The Holt family's 150-acre farm and wells were poisoned and their wealth stolen by the leaky Dickson County Landfill. Five generations of Holts have called the Eno Road community home.
Although African Americans make up only 4.5 percent of the Dickson County population, all of the permitted solid waste landfills in the county have been sited in the mostly black Eno Road community over the past four decades--creating a toxic nightmare for its residents.
The Eno Road community has been the solid waste "dumping grounds" dating back more than four decades. The black neighborhood was first used as the site of the Dickson "city dump" and subsequent city and county sanitary landfills, construction and demolition landfills, balefills, and processing centers. The site is currently being used as a C&D landfill, garbage transfer station, and recycling center.
EPA records indicate that trichloroethylene or TCE, a "reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen," was found in the Holt family's wells as early as 1988, the same year the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) issued a permit to Dickson County for operation of the facility as a sanitary landfill. In December 1988, TDEC sent letters to the Holts informing the family of the test results and the finding of trichloroethene in their wells. The letter states: "Your water is of good quality for the parameters tested. It is felt that the low levels of methylene or trichloroethene may be due to either lab or sampling error."
In December 1991, the federal EPA sent the Harry Holt family a letter informing him of the tests performed on his well and deemed it safe. The letter states: "Use of your well water should not result in any adverse health effects."