Descendants of the late CEO Garry Neil Drummond are trying to sell Drummond Company amid slumping demand for coal, according to a report at banbalch.com. But a possible sale might face a number of stumbling blocks, including an unresolved $75-million lawsuit related to the North Birmingham Superfund bribery scandal. Writes Publisher K.B. Forbes, under the headline "Round 1: “Unfinished Business” Against Three Stooges Mounts":
As we predicted last year, the sheer and uncontrolled panic of Alabama Power, Balch & Bingham and Drummond Company with the possible rebirth of the North Birmingham Bribery Scandal would provoke an avalanche of investigations and probes under a new administration and congressional leadership.
The Three Stooges were utter fools.
Round one: the national media are investigating and putting pressure against Drummond Company.
In an extensive piece in E&E News on environmental justice, Drummond’s deal for its polluting ABC Coke Plant in North Birmingham is now under scrutiny. E&E writes:
But what happened — and didn’t happen — next tells a disquieting tale of a status quo that has long left people of color and low-income communities disproportionately exposed to toxic air pollution….
[F]ederal regulators dithered. Local officials obfuscated. And the coke plant, located less than a mile from an elementary school, has continued to spew tons of cancer-causing benzene and other hazardous pollutants each year. Almost a full decade passed before a court-enforced cleanup agreement was locked in — and that happened earlier this year only after EPA fought residents’ efforts to amend the final deal.
In a ruling last summer, U.S. District Judge Abdul Kallon rejected any restrictions. That was followed this January with a final consent decree that — unusually — differed modestly from the 2019 draft.
But unfinished business remains.
After [Jefferson] county health officials again renewed the plant’s operating air permit two years ago, [environmental group] GASP in June 2019 filed a protest with EPA. Among other objections, the group said that the permit lacked requirements related to total annual benzene in the byproduct recovery plant’s waste streams. Under the Clean Air Act, EPA is supposed to respond definitively within 60 days. More than 21 months later, GASP has yet to get an answer. EPA’s review is “ongoing,” the agency spokesperson said.
What does this mean? Forbes provides the answer:
That environmental racism and injustice will be dealt with and not be hidden by political friends, connections or cohorts in Alabama or Washington, D.C .
Drummond, which has provided hundreds of millions of dollars worth of coal products to Alabama Power, is the first of the three stooges to be in the spotlight.
As the heirs of Garry Drummond attempt to sell their global coal operations to Chinese or Central Asian interests, the baggage from North Birmingham, the $75 million lawsuit from David Roberson, and the federal probes percolating on the sidelines may hinder any future hopes of “closing the deal.”