From Birmingham to Spartanburg

SPARTANGBURG, S.C. (WIAT) — Two cities, separated by more than 300 miles. The people within them, share similar stories, and a similar fight to overcome contamination from their big industry neighbors.

Cleanup to remove soil laden with toxic chemicals at hundreds of homes in North Birmingham has begun, but what happens after the clean up? Birmingham is looking to Spartanburg, South Carolina for the answer.

Several neighborhoods in the city are about 60% complete in a plan to revitalize after years of fighting to have an abandoned landfill cleaned up. There was so much trash and even medical waste, not even trees could survive. 55 gallon drums filled with unknown substances also littered the land. An old textile mill and fertilizer plant also caused problems.

That was then, but Spartanburg is much different now.

Nearly 40 North Birmingham residents found themselves on a bus looking at what could be their neighborhoods five to ten years from now. Better public housing, remodeled homes, green space, even their own community health center, but most importantly a better relationship with their neighbors.

For the remaining plant, those who live here had to figure out a way to coexist. One solution was, putting up a wall. But residents didn’t want that. Instead, trees will create a natural buffer between the plant and neighboring homes.

EPA crews are currently in Collegeville, removing soil from properties with the highest levels of contaminants. They’ll also be working in Fairmont and Harriman Park. The project is expected to wrap up in September.

Copyright 2014 WIAT-CBS42

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