Out and About

Rally for the River!

I am told the management of Tyson Foods’ chicken processing plant in Blountsville wants to be the best neighbor it can be because they care about our communities. Some with connections to Tyson Foods think Tyson Blountsville will do more than just what Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) requires them to do to comply with their permit to discharge wastewater into the Locust Fork River.

A very good result may come out of the ADEM/Tyson public meeting Nov. 19 at the American Legion in Blountsville if the community attends to voice its demands. ADEM has scheduled the meeting to hear what the community wants for our river. We are the river’s voice! We need to rally for the river!

ADEM has the power in the permit process. Tyson’s legal requirement is to comply with the permit guidelines set forth by ADEM. ADEM has trouble “managing” Alabama’s environment. Because its managing ability is strained, it requires public oversight and input. The department has many smart, committed employees who try to do their jobs in spite of inadequate funding and staffing. It is fair to say ADEM is “reactive” to concerns rather than engaged in “proactive” management. We need to voice our concerns. We are the river’s voice!

Next week the people of Blount County have the opportunity to speak on behalf of the Locust Fork River. We must not miss this opportunity to comment. The new permit allows a wastewater discharge of well over a million gallons per day. The “clean” wastewater returned to the river will not be as clean as the no-cost ground water taken by Tyson. Why not? It should be.

Other Tyson Foods processing plants filter wastewater to a much higher quality standard than the water discharged into the Locust Fork. Tyson Foods certainly has the expertise to return truly clean water to the river as they do at other Tyson-owned processing plants. If enough of us voice our desires, Tyson might just tell ADEM they intend to go beyond “clean water” discharge permit requirements.

Tyson should do its best for the people of Blount County. It is unfortunate but we cannot count on ADEM to do what is best for our river. Their wastewater regulation is very weak compared to the rest of the states in our country. Apparently, other state governments care more, but that is a discussion for another time. It is now up to us, with Tyson’s help, to show we care. We are the voice of the river!

We as a community must show we care about the Locust Fork River. It gives life to the county. It is a big part of Blount County’s future… our future. We are the river’s voice.

PLEASE attend ADEM’s 6 p.m. public meeting on Nov. 19 to RALLY FOR THE RIVER. Go to www.flfr.org or Friends of the Locust Fork River Facebook to learn more. Your children will thank you one day.