River lovers win court case

Metro Recycling must cease illegally discharging pollutants from its used-tire landfill, located three miles southwest of the town of Locust Fork.

That’s according to the settlement reached with Black Warrior Riverkeeper and Friends of the Locust Fork River and approved by U.S. Judge L. Scott Coogler.

Under the settlement, Metro Recycling must also obtain a pollution permit mandated by the Clean Water Act and must pay $7500 for a supplemental environmental project. That money will fund aquatic surveys to be used to determine conservation goals within the Locust Fork watershed.

During Riverkeeper patrols, Metro was found discharging pollutants into an unnamed tributary of Whites Creek, a tributary of the Locust Fork of the Black Warrior River. Identified in Riverkeeper’s water samples were benzene and vinyl chloride, known carcinogens; chloromethan, possible carcinogen; and 1,2-dichloroethane, probable carcinogen, among others.

The Locust Fork is a remarkable free-flowing river. Flowing for 159 miles out of Etowah, Marshall, and Blount counties into Jefferson County, it is an outstanding resource for locals and visitors alike. The supplemental environment project will help environmentalists better understand the river’s aquatic biodiversity so they can be better stewards in conservation efforts.

Friends of the Locust Fork River and Black Warrior Riverkeeper are nonprofit grassroots organizations. Friends “is dedicated to preserving the integrity of the Locust Fork River in its natural free-flowing state and, to that end, the lifestyle of the community that surrounds it.” Sam Howell, Hayden, is its president.

“Riverkeeper’s mission is to protect and restore the Black Warrior and its tributaries.” Nelson Brooke heads that group.

The two groups chose Freshwater Land Trust, it too a non-profit, to receive Metro Recycling’s project payment and enable the aquatic surveys. Its director is Wendy Jackson.