The Bulletin—April 24, 2013
The Bulletin compiles news from in and around the U.S. South. We hope these posts will provide space for lively discussion and debate regarding issues of importance to those living in and intellectually engaging with the U.S. South.
- In Atlanta, two historic African American churches potentially stand in the way of plans to build a new, billion-dollar football stadium for the NFL's Atlanta Falcons. The first, Friendship Baptist Church, was founded before the end of the Civil War and has stood at its current location since 1880. Spelman and Morehouse Colleges were founded in First Baptist. Also, Maynard H. Jackson, Sr., the father of Atlanta's first black mayor Maynard H. Jackson, Jr., was the church's head pastor until his death in 1953. The other church, Mt. Vernon Baptist Church, has occupied its current space since 1955, having already moved several times due to development in the area. Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, Falcons owner Arthur Blank, and other local business leaders are in negotiations with the churches over their properties and promise significant investments in the neighborhood in which the churches are located if they agree to relocation.
- On March 29, Exxon-Mobil's sixty-five-year-old Pegasus pipeline burst in Mayflower, Arkansas. The town, which lies twenty-five miles northwest of Little Rock, was inundated with an estimated 210,000 gallons of heavy crude oil from Canadian tar sands as a result of the spill. The aging pipeline runs from Illinois to Texas and its rupture forced the evacuation of twenty-two homes in Mayflower. Area residents and environmentalists are concerned that neither Exxon-Mobil nor the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (the government entity overseeing the cleanup) are prepared to deal with a spill of this type of oil of this magnitude. Compared with those associated with ordinary oil drilling, the processes required to extract, process, refine, and clean up tar sands oil are "complex, energy-intensive, and expensive." While this spill is unusually large and has received significant media attention, it is but one of the hundreds of "significant incidents" involving oil pipeline spills reported to the U.S. Department of Transportation each year.
- On April 17, a fertilizer plant in West, Texas exploded killing 14 people, injuring hundreds more, and damaging or destroying buildings within a half-mile radius of the blast. The cause of the blast is still unknown. The plant, which is owned by Adair Inc.'s West Fertilizer Company, produced anhydrous ammonia (a liquid crop nutrient) and stored upwards of 270 tons of ammonium nitrate, an extremely volitile solid fertilizer which was used in the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. Despite the presence of these dangerous and explosive chemicals, the plant has not been inspected by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) since 1985, and the company filed a 2011 report with the Environmental Protection Agency stating that there was "no" risk of fire or explosion at the plant. While Texas lawmakers suggest that increased regulation would not have prevented the blast, many labor and workplace safety groups are calling for increased regulations and more funding for OSHA enforcement.