Downtown Residents Filing Suit: “Mobile’s Got Some Really Dirty Air Downtown”

By Kati Weis, FOX10 News Reporter


A group of downtown Mobile residents have filed suit against their own city. They’re also suing a local coal terminal – saying coal dust is plaguing their community.

They don’t want to be paid off, instead, they’re asking for better practices to be put in place.

The residents filed suit, because they want to see Cooper Marine and Timberlands, a coal terminal on the Mobile River, take the necessary precautions to prevent coal dust from, in their words, polluting their neighborhoods.

Downtown residents told FOX10 News the coal at Cooper’s facility is not properly contained, and coal dust particles are covering their properties.

“We’re covered in coal dust, and you can just see it, right on the side of the house, it’s kind of oily and gritty,” said downtown resident Marie Dyson.

Another resident said, while cleaning the dust on the side of her home on Dearborn Street, “if it isn’t coal dust, then I think Mobile’s got some really dirty air downtown.”

Attorney Pete Burns represents the group of neighbors in the lawsuit filed last month against the Mobile and Cooper Marine and Timberlands, which has been in place on the Mobile River since 1905.

Burns said the city acted illegally when it allowed the company to expand without first analyzing how the company was containing coal dust.

“They have acted in my opinion in an arbitrary and capricious manner, that’s the legal standard that applies. When you make a decision without knowing what the consequences are, that seems to define arbitrary and capricious,” explained Burns.

However, the city’s attorney, Doug Anderson, claims it did nothing wrong, even though he said the planning commission never toured the facility before reaching its decision.

“I think the planning commission and the city council had sufficient information and proper documentation presented to them to justify their decision,” said Anderson.

Anderson said the coal terminal has a sprinkler system in place to help keep coal dust down to a minimum.

But, neighbors said that hasn’t been enough.

The city of Mobile still hasn’t filed a response to the lawsuit, but is expected to file one by next week.

FOX10 News also reached out to Cooper Marine and Timberlands multiple times for a comment, but so far, haven’t heard back.

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