Lawsuit to halt coal ash dumping held up by landfill’s bankruptcy

The residents of Perry County, Ala., were just gearing up to file a lawsuit against Arrowhead Landfill. The landfill had entered into an agreement with the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) to accept coal ash recovered from the east Tennessee spill site, generating millions of dollars and a handful of jobs for the very poor, predominantly black community. But residents argued that the benefits came at too high a price. Coal ash is toxic, containing arsenic and carcinogens that have been linked to serious health problems. To make matters worse, the constant trainload deliveries of coal ash to the landfill were literally stinking up the town.

But before the citizens of Perry County could file their lawsuit, the owners of Arrowhead Landfill filed for bankruptcy, a move that stops the residents’ planned lawsuit in its tracks. No new litigation can be brought against entities in bankruptcy proceedings.

Perry-Uniontown Ventures I LLC (PUV), also known as Perry County Associates, the company that owns the landfill, filed the documents last week in Mobile. PUV claims it owes $3.9 million to Phillips & Jordan Inc., (P&J) $779,837 to the Perry County Commission, and $11,000 to the Alabama Department of Revenue. PUV claims P&J and Phill-Con Services have withheld money paid by the TVA.

An attorney for the residents says that while the planned litigation cannot go forward until the bankruptcy matter is cleared up, other options are being examined.

Beasley Allen attorney Rhon Jones, who represents residents of east Tennessee who have lost property in the TVA coal ash spill, told the Selma Times Journal that he is uncertain whether the landfill’s bankruptcy would have any effect on his clients’ cases.