I don’t very often feel inadequate to any task I set myself to. But folks, today, I do.
I went out to Eno Road, to look around and get a feel for the scope of the problem, and I got shook. I got shook in a way I don’t quite know how to articulate. I was expecting a little rural community, kind of like Cumberland Furnace, which is up north of Dickson and is very cute and out of the way.
But Eno Road and the Whorley Furnace community are right, and I mean, right outside of Dickson. In fact, I’m not sure with how the town has grown that it can rightly be considered outside of Dickson.
I tried to find a lot of the places I’ve read about in the EPA study. I saw that people were fishing out of Dickson Lake, though a sign limits you to only five catfish. And the springs and wells north of Eno Road now sit in the middle of crowded, fairly new subdivisions.
Eno Road itself has a mix of styles of houses and just south of there, there’s a lot of abject rural poverty, people living in broken down trailers and shacks. But there’s also a lot of new construction, because the area is really, really beautiful, and very, very close to the amenities of Dickson. Seriously, we’re talking five minutes, at most, from downtown Dickson.
I don’t know how to talk coherently about these points. A lot of people smarter and better able have already hit the racial stuff. And I want to reiterate that it is bullshit what happened to the Holts.
But I’m worried that people are blowing this story off because they imagine some remote corner of Tennessee, some isolated holler full of poor black people and this nefarious dump and think “Well, what the fuck? That’s too bad, but not my problem.”
Meanwhile, people over there have been assured that the dump is safe now and that the drinking water is safe now and so people are building whole subdivisions on the land that is home to these contaminated springs and even that is home to the dump.
I, myself, am no geologist, but I have to tell you that, just driving over the landscape in that area, I am very, very concerned that the fenced boundaries of the dump now do not match the farthest reaches of the dump historically. And, if that is the case, all the capping and treatment inside the fence doesn’t do anything to help with the stuff outside the fence, assuming that the capping and treatment inside the fence are effective.
Here’s what made me very afraid on the ride home. The government told Sullivan to avoid coming in contact with the water, not to drink it, cook with it, do laundry with it, or bathe with it. Do not touch the water.
What about the people who now live right up against the landfill? What happens when they get storm water in their basements? Is it safe for them to touch?
Anyway, I apologize again. I was going to take some pictures, but I got over there and the thing that struck me as being the most important thing to show you was how close the dump was to these brand new homes and this land that is for sale. Do these families know what’s sitting on the other side of that fence?
I just don’t know.
I hope they win.
I wish I could tell you this story more elegantly than what you’re about to see, but these are the skills I have.
Oh, and I made you a map.