A publication of Work On Waste USA, Inc., 82 Judson, Canton, NY 13617 315-379-9200 July 26, 1990


at Alsen, Louisiana

Attachment to EPA’s William Sanjour 5-10-90 letter to M.M. Woodall
(see Waste Not #112)

Questions Sanjour asked Florence Robinson, Assistant Professor of Biology at Southern University

“Question 1: Has the site attracted industrial growth?

“Answer: There has been no industrial growth as a result of the incinerator. Most of the waste is from out of state. Other local industries have filed complaints against Rollins because of odors from the incinerator.

“Question 2: Has it created new jobs?

“Answer: Rollins employs about 50 people. The local people are all in the lower echelons and are mostly high school dropouts. They are paid very well, 40 to 50 thousand dollars, but they aren’t well trained in safety and they don’t understand the hazards they are dealing with.

“Question 3: Has the state assured responsible operation?

“Answer: No. Three years ago, Pat Norton, the Secretary of the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) tried to shut down Rollins because of numerous violations. She was fired within days and the plant remained open. The DEQ has fined Rollins on numerous occasions but they never pay. They are allowed to negotiate a much smaller settlement. There is no permanent on-site inspector. Most complaints are from citizens calling DEQ about odors. It is difficult to reach DEQ and they are often treated rudely. Typically, when DEQ investigates a complaint, they will tell Rollins they are coming and Rollins will shut down the plant so that the inspector finds no basis for the complaint.

“Question 4: What other benefits or dis-benefits have there been to the community?

“Answer: After losing a lawsuit to the community, Rollins made several contributions including a fire truck, street lights, and an addition to the recreation center, and cash payments to local citizens in exchange for a waiver of immunity. There are frequent complaints of obnoxious odors. Sometimes they cause vomiting, sometimes a rash. Other symptoms include eye or lung irritation. These effects can be felt several miles away. Ash has covered garden vegetables causing illness to the people who ate them. There have been three cancer deaths in one block of nine houses. Two children in one family came down with cancer. In January of this year there were sixteen people from Alsen being treated for cancer. A health survey conducted in 1980 showed that 80% of the population suffered from headaches, respiratory ailments, and sinus problems. An recent survey conducted by Prof. Robinson showed that 20% of the community suffered from asthma as compared with 7% from a control group. There have been several spills on rural highways from the eighteen wheelers carrying hazard waste and several cases of trucks turning over on the interstate. Groundwater has been polluted and Rollins discharges into a tributary of the Mississippi.

“Other comments from Prof. Robinson:

“The community of Alsen is poor, rural and 95% black. Prof. Robinson said that ‘Rollins is a company without a conscience’ and offered the following examples to illustrate her point.

“Rollins was knowingly polluting groundwater for a year and a half before it did anything about it. The pollution has now traveled a half mile from its source.

“Rollins was turned down by DEQ for a permit to build a shredder. They built it anyway. Two contract workers building the shredder were badly injured by chemicals at the plant which burned out their lungs and left them permanently crippled. Rollins did not report the accident to DEQ. They nevertheless continued to advertise that they had no accidents on site.

“Wastes from DuPont were shipped to Rollins with the written warning that they must be treated on Rollins’ site. Nevertheless Rollins mixed the DuPont wastes with waste oil and sent it to an Ashland Oil Co. refinery in Kentucky. It blew up the Ashland plant.

“A local environmentalist came out with a report which ‘raked Rollins over the coals’. They unsuccessfully tried to shut her up by offering her a high paying job as Public Relations Director.”

hazardous waste incinerator in

Attachment to EPA’s Sanjour 5-10-90 letter to M.M. Woodall

Questions Sanjour asked Corinne Whitehead, Retired school teacher, Past State President League of Women Voters, Appointed by Governor to chair Task Force on Earthquake Hazards Reduction.

“Question 1: Has the site attracted industrial growth?

“Answer: LWD has been a detriment to industrial growth. Air pollution is bad. No new plants have been sited. The smell is bad for tourism.

“Question 2: Has it created new jobs?

“Answer: LWD claims to employ 300 people but is is probably more like 100 to 120. They use a lot of high school dropouts and otherwise unemployable people. Employees are not well trained and they are misinform-ed about the hazards of the material they are working with.

“Question 3: Has the state assured responsible operation?

“Answer: No. The head of state waste management authority, Don Harker, was fired when he tried to deny a permit to LWD because of their bad record. There are several former state employees working for LWD. One state inspector came out to investigate an explosion and ended up working for LWD. One state regulator, who is in charge of environmental testing, has a son working for LWD. One state senator and his son work for a firm which does consulting and testing for LWD. The same senator gutted the waste management regulations. Until very recently there has been no monitoring of toxic air pollution in the community.

“Question 4: What other benefits or dis-benefits have there been to the community?

“Answer: LWD donated a truck to the town. There is a high incidence of children born with brain tumors and cancer. There is a high incidence of melanoma and leukemia. LWD got sued for non-payment of taxes in 1989. Homeowners insurance won’t pay for chemical damage.”

William Sanjour, in another attachment to his 5-10-90 letter to M.M. Woodall, questioned Liz Natter, attorney, former Branch Manager in the Kentucky Department of Law at the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection (NREP) Cabinet. “...Ms. Natter also points out that former employees of the state regulatory agency (KDNREP) work for LWD including a former inspector and a former permit writer. She also says that prosecutors may avoid going after companies with good political connections because it’s a waste of their time.”

NOTE: According to Patty Frase, the August issue of “Family Circle” has an excellent report on dioxin-contaminated Jacksonville, Arkansas.

WASTE NOT # 113 A publication of Work on Waste USA, published 48 times a year, annual rates are: Individual & Non-Profits $35; Student & Seniors $25; Consultants & For-Profits $100; Canadian Subscriptions $US40. Editors: Ellen & Paul Connett, 82 Judson Street, Canton, NY 13617. Tel: 315-379-9200. Fax: 315-379-0448.