Justice Department Investigating Alabama Over Waste Water in Black County

In Summary

Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Civil Rights Division said state and county officials have “failed to carry out their responsibilities to abate raw sewage conditions.”

The Department of Justice will be investigating allegations about the state of Alabama’s wastewater management program discriminating against Black residents of Lowndes County, according to The Hill

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Lowndes County is located in the Black Belt. It is considered a low-income and is home to a large number of residents who don’t have access to municipal sewer systems, according to The Hill. 

These accusations could put Alabama and Lowndes County in hot water as it relates to Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the act states that, “No person in the United States shall, on the ground of race, color, or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” 

This investigation is the first Title VI environmental justice investigation that concerns a recipient of department funds, according to the DOJ. 

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“Sanitation is a basic human need, and no one in the United States should be exposed to risk of illness and other serious harm because of inadequate access to safe and effective sewage management,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division in a news release. “State and local health officials are obligated, under federal civil rights laws, to protect the health and safety of all their residents. We will conduct a fair and thorough investigation of these environmental justice concerns and their impact on the health, life, and safety of people across Lowndes County, Alabama.”   

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