DICKSON COUNTY LANDFILL--HARRY HOLT FAMILY LINKS
Compiled by Robert D. Bullard
Historically, African American and other people of color communities have borne a disproportionate burden of pollution from landfills, garbage dumps, incinerators, sewage treatment plants, chemical industries and a host of other polluting facilities. Many dirty industries have followed the “path of least resistance” allowing communities of color to become environmental "sacrifice zones" and the “dumping grounds” for all kinds of health-threatening operations.
The following media links provide a real-life example of the
deadly mix of “wastes and race” in Dickson County, Tennessee,
the contamination of the African American Harry Holt family’s wells
and their 150-acre homestead, and the slow government response to the deadly
health threat. The Dickson, Tennessee case has been described as the “poster
child” for environmental racism. Harry
“Highway” Holt, founding member of the Nashville
gospel group the Dynamic Dixie Travelers, died on January 9, 2007 after a
long bout with cancer.
Orsted speaks on environmental racism Sheila Holt Orsted was shocked when she learned that she had stage two breast cancer. Orsted was a bodybuilder and personal trainer who taught five aerobics classes and played basketball on a women's league. She later found out that the cancer was caused by toxic chemicals near her home. Orsted spoke in the Garrett Conference Center auditorium on Wednesday evening about environmental racism and how it has affected her life. Orsted's speech was among Constitution Week events this week. By Aaron Frasier for the College Heights Herald. 15 September 2010.
Landfill cleanup could cost $1 billion The scope of the multi-million dollar landfill lawsuit just broadened with four expert testimonies that conclude the spread of contaminants could be much wider than previously estimated. The lawsuit, filed by the Natural Resources Defense Council on behalf of members of the Holt family, who live on Eno Road, is set to go to trial in March. But expert witnesses have been hired by the plaintiffs to back up claims that the chemicals dumped in the landfill over decades have contaminated groundwater in a larger region than previously believed. The Herald obtained copies of some of these reports. Among four experts in environmental science hired by the plaintiffs, all agree that trichloroethylene (TCE) and perchloroethylene (PCE) have contaminated the groundwater around the landfill for decades. The opinions paint a grim picture for the current understanding of the spread of the contamination, and some suggest additional steps be taken immediately to contain it. By D. Frank Smith for THE TENNESSEAN. 26 August 2010.
Dickson Landfill Battle Still Moving Forward Plaintiffs in the long fought battle over Dickson County's contaminated landfill are now asking the local government to get rid of waste left on their property in July. Sheila Holt-Orsted said county officials served the family with a search warrant on the basis of rumors that her father had allowed illegal dumping of sorts on the family, thus contributing to the contamination. A barrel labeled "purged water," and dated 7/14/10 now sits on the property. Holt-Orsted says the water was dug from 300 feet below the well the family drank from before being notified earlier in the decade of its trichloroethylene contamination. By Nicole Ferguson for NewsChannel5.com. 24 August 2010.
Families who live near landfill say pollution contaminated their water wells, caused cancer Nearly 100 people attended an NAACP rally in Dickson to call attention to polluted well water that one family alleges is causing cancer. Jimmie Garland, vice president of the NAACP's Middle Tennessee Chapter, says people have been sickened by drinking contaminated water. Garland says since many black families were affected, it's a sort of "environmental racism." One of the speakers on Saturday, Sheila Holt-Orsted, says her family's well was contaminated by chemicals from the former Dickson County Landfill. She says she has cancer, and her father died of cancer two years ago. By Associated Press. 6 September 2009.
Middle Tennessee rally links pollution and racism Jared Thompson has made the trip from his home in Northern California to visit relatives in Kingston Springs every year since he was in grade school.He'd heard family stories about distant relatives from Dickson and about the county's troubles with contaminated drinking water, but when he heard about Saturday's NAACP environmental racism rally, he wanted to learn more."I'd never been to this type of event before, so I didn't know what to expect," said Thompson, 26. "But this seems like a good turnout, and there's a lot of energy in the crowd. I hope this event can spark a change because this seems like a big problem."Thompson was one of about 85 people who attended the environmental racism rally in Dickson. The event aimed to promote understanding of the issue, organizers said. By Nicole Young for THE TENNESSEAN DICKSON. 6 September 2009.
A real-life example of the deadly mix of “wastes and race” Historically, African American and other people of color communities have borne a disproportionate burden of pollution from landfills, garbage dumps, incinerators, sewage treatment plants, chemical industries and a host of other polluting facilities. Many dirty industries have followed the “path of least resistance” allowing communities of color to become environmental "sacrifice zones" and the “dumping grounds” for all kinds of health-threatening operations. Available at hempembassy.net. 5 September 2009.
Landfill Lawsuits Continue The fight continues more than 20 years after a Dickson County family's well was found to be contaminated with a toxic chemical from a nearby landfill. Since the first lawsuit filed in 2003, the Holt family says they're a victim of environmental racism. And they won't stop fighting for justice until the landfill is clean and many families like theirs no longer have to worry for their safety. At the rally, Sheila Holt-Orsted says, "They don't know what they have taken from my family." She holds up a picture of her father at a rally in Dickson. By Erika Kurre for WZTV-TV. 5 September 2009.
NAACP Hold Rally; Claims Toxic Well Poisoned Black Families Their story has been featured across the country, and for years, the family has claimed poisons from a local landfill have been causing deadly diseases, including cancer. Saturday, the NAACP is rallying behind them in a fight they say is really for all Americans. "When this problem is healing for Holt family, it is also healing for Dickson County," said supporter Jerry Jerkins. Saturday's event brought awareness to what the NAACP and a Dickson family call "environmental racism." For years, the Holt family says they were exposed to toxic water because of a nearby landfill. They believe studies have proven a chemical that can cause cancer was leaking into the neighbors' well water supply system. For years Sheila Holt-Orsted says her family and others on Eno Road were being exposed to a toxic chemical that leaked into their well water system. By NewsChannel5.com. 5 September 2009.
In Our Backyard: Environmental Racism in Dickson You may not have heard of Dickson, Tennessee, but this weekend, the town is center stage in the movement for environmental justice. Civil rights leaders gathered there for a national summit on environmental racism to highlight environmental health issues facing communities of color. The location was a pointed choice. For about a decade, the town of about 12,000 has been at the center of an environmental lawsuit involving a local family and a contaminated landfill, which is just a stone’s throw from dozens of homes in a mostly Black community. The Holts claim that family members have been plagued by health problems due to a toxin from the landfill, trichloroethylene (TCE). By Michelle Chen for ColorLines.com. 4 September 2009.
National Civil Rights Leaders Gather for Environmental Racism Rally On September 5, 2009 Civil Rights Leaders from across the nation will gather on the grounds of the Memorial Building Mayors Office at 202 Center Avenue in Dickson, Tennessee for an all day rally from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Dickson is home to one of the worst Environmental Racism cases in the history of the United States. The Holt family has been fighting for the past 10 years to bring justice and awareness to the contaminated water leaked from the county landfill. By Terry McMoore Clarksville, TN Online. 1 September 2009.
Rally for Environmental Justice in Dickson, TN Rally with Justice and Witness Ministries of the United Church of Christ, the Tennessee Baptist Missionary Convention, The Center for Environmental Justice of Clark Atlanta University and the Tennessee NAACP on September 5, 2009, 10 a.m. at the Memorial Building, 200 Center Ave, in Dickson TN (35 miles west of Nashville) in support of the Holt family whose well became contaminated with TCE, a dangerous toxin. Those who lived on the property, just 54 ft from the landfill have suffered death and disease. The family believes their health issues came from drinking contaminated water from their well. Having finally been warned of the danger, they stopped drinking the well water. Their homestead is still contaminated. You can sign the petition at by clicking HERE or you can view the rally announcement HERE (pdf). By UCC. News. 29 August 2009.
Sept. 5 Labor Day “Call to End Toxic Racism” Rally in Dickson, Tennessee To highlight the nation's continuing toxic dumping problem in African American communities, civil rights, faith based, environmental justice, and health leaders from around the country are planning a rally in Dickson, Tennessee on Labor Day weekend Saturday, September 5. Dickson is located about 35 miles west of Nashville. Organizers of the rally chose to highlight the struggle of the African American Harry Holt family--the "poster child" for toxic racism. The Holt family's 150-acre farm and wells were poisoned and their wealth stolen by the leaky Dickson County Landfill. Five generations of Holts have called the Eno Road community home. Click HERE to view the article. By Robert Bullard for OpEdNews. 26 August 2009.
Old Evil, New Twist: Environmental Racism, Sheila Holt-Orsted was a very healthy young woman. An aerobics instructor and fitness trainer, she was named Miss Tennessee Bodybuilding Heavyweight and Mixed Pairs Champion in 1991. When she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2003, she asked herself, as so many women do, “What did I do to get this?” What’s unusual in Sheila’s case is that she found an answer, one that involves the EPA, the state of Tennessee, the town and county of Dickson, and an insidious system of social injustice that Sheila is working very hard to correct. The Holt family owns 150 acres of rural Tennessee acreage that they’ve lived on and farmed for four generations. "ey’re part of a small African American community—only 4.5 per cent of the otherwise white population—in Dickson, Tennessee, about 35 miles west of Nashville. Sheila’s childhood was in many ways idyllic; she ate fresh corn and apples from the family orchard and drank cool, sweet water from the family well. By Richard Leiter for Breast Cancer Action Spring 2009 Newsletter.
End Toxic Racism in Dickson, Tennessee! In 2007 the United Church of Christ released “Toxic Wastes and Race at Twenty.” Among many things, the report was the depiction of the various outstanding failures of local and federal government to protect the people of Dickson, Tennessee. Residents were poisoned from the common, but controllable, toxic chemical, TCE from well water. A county owned landfill was determined to be the source. Approximately 1,400 citizens’ water came from wells or springs within a four mile radius of the landfill. Around 40 homes are located within 500 to 2000 ft of the landfill. One company, the Ebbtide Corporation (boats) dumped drum waste every week for 3 to 4 years. One private well, the Harry Holt well, is located 500 feet from the landfill. For years since the late 1960s, the landfill has been the final resting place of toxic industrial waste barrels. The contents of those barrels, however, have made their way to contaminate groundwater, poisoning the mostly African American community. By Bryan Moats • 16 April 2008.
Water Contamination Suit Filed Against Dickson County, Tennessee The Natural Resources Defense Council and two residents of Dickson, Tennessee have filed a lawsuit against the Dickson County and city governments. They allege that trichloroethylene, TCE, an industrial chemical disposed at the Dickson Landfill that has been linked to neurological and developmental harm and cancer, poses an imminent and substantial endangerment to human health and the environment. Dickson, a town of some 12,000 people is located about 35 miles west of Nashville. The Dickson County Landfill, 74 acres off Eno Road, sits within 500 to 2,000 feet of approximately 40 homes, most owned by blacks. Article by the Environmental News Service. 10 March 2008.
Lawsuit wants Dickson to clean waste Two members of a Dickson County family have filed a federal lawsuit claiming local governments haven't done enough to control toxic waste around the contaminated county landfill. Plaintiffs Sheila Holt-Orsted and her mother, Beatrice Holt of Dickson, want the county and city of Dickson to clean up toxic waste barrels they said have been buried at the landfill for decades. An industrial chemical called trichloroethylene, or TCE, which is linked to cancer and other illnesses, was buried in the landfill in the 1960s and '70s. TCE has been found in nearby well water and is believed to be the cause of severe illnesses — mostly cancer in many nearby residents. Article by Patricia Lynch Kimbro for the Nashville Tennessean, Tennessee.
Local Citizens, Conservation Group File Suit Seeking Cleanup of Alleged Water Contamination in Dickson County, Tennessee
The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and two residents of Dickson, Tennessee, Sheila Holt-Orsted and Beatrice Holt, today filed a lawsuit against the Dickson County and City governments. The Complaint alleges that trichloroethylene (TCE), an industrial chemical disposed at the Dickson Landfill that has been linked to neurological and developmental harm and cancer, poses an imminent and substantial endangerment to human health and the environment. 4 March 2008.
NBEJN Joins HBCUs to Expose Environmental Racism in Tennessee A half-dozen historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) joined forces with the National Black Environmental Justice Network (NBEJN) for the “Take Back Black Health Toxics Tour” in Dickson, Tennessee. The tour showcased a slam-dunk case of environmental racism. A broad coalition of environmental, civil rights, and faith-based groups met at Nashville’s Fisk University Race Relation Institute (RRI) and boarded two 30-passenger buses to Dickson, a small town of 12,244 residents located about 35 miles to the west. 3 December 2007.
Family turns disaster into call for justice It wasn't so much to ask for, and then it could have been, too. "Keep us in your prayers, especially me,'' the 45-year-old woman asked approximately 70 people who had gathered in her family's yard on Eno Road here. Sheila Holt-Orsted had come home on this beautiful, late fall afternoon. She had brought all these people home with her to learn more about her and her family's fight for environmental justice. Most of those who had come were strangers to this Southern town of approximately 12,300 people, some 35-40 miles west of Nashville. Article by Dwight Lewis for the Nashville Tennessean, Tennessee. 2 December 2007.
Tour Spotlights Effect Of Water Contamination On Dickson Family Environmental racism is a strong accusation but one a Dickson family said is the only way to explain why nothing has been done about poison buried beneath their land. For years the Holt family has spoken out about the toxins flowing from the Dickson Landfill. A coalition of leaders who represented health, religious and civil rights groups boarded a bus from Nashville's Fisk University to Dickson. Nashville News Channel 5, Tennessee. 29 November 2007.
Dickson County accepts $400,000 offer on dumping claim Dickson County will receive up to $400,000 - one-tenth of its initial claim - from a former local company that dumped toxic waste at the county landfill.Several lawsuits have been filed against Saltire, which took over the former Schrader Co. after it was discovered the landfill was contaminated and the contamination had seeped into ground water. Plaintiffs claimed exposure to the water caused cancer and other ailments. By Teri Burton for the Nashville Tennessean, Tennessee. 28 November 2007.
Dickson County Landfill Lawsuit Settled: County Agrees To $400K Settlement Dickson County has settled for $400,000 from a company that dumped toxic waste into their landfill a few years ago. The county had originally filed the lawsuit for $4 million. That toxic waste eventually got into the groundwater and is thought to have caused a number of diseases in the community including cancer. The county said the low offer was accepted in favor of dragging the case out and costing the county untold amounts in legal bills. Channel 4 News, Nashville. 28 November 2007.
Take Back Black Health Toxics Tour Planned for Tennessee Town: National Campaign to Spotlight Deadly Impact of Environmental Racism On Thursday, November 29, a coalition of national leaders, representing environmental justice, civil rights, scientists, women’s health, academia, faith-based and religious groups, legal, and elected officials, including congressional staffers, from around the country will meet at Nashville’s Fisk University and board a bus to Dickson, a small town located about 35 miles to the west. The national leaders will travel to Dickson and participate in the “Take Back Black Health Toxics Tour” and see for themselves a slam-dunk case of environmental racism. Article by Robert Bullard for Dissident Voice. 28 November 2007.
Toxics Tour Planned to Highlight Environmental Racism: National Campaign to Spotlight the Deadly Mix of Toxic Racism and TCE Contamination on an African American Family On Thursday, November 29, a coalition of national leaders, representing environmental justice, civil rights, scientists, women’s health, academia, faith-based and religious groups, legal, and elected officials, including congressional staffers, from around the country will meet at Nashville’s Fisk University and board a bus for Dickson, a small town located about 35 miles to the west. The national leaders will travel to Dickson and participate in the “Take Back Black Health Toxics Tour” and see for themselves in real time a slam-dunk, in-your-face case of environmental racism. Article by Robert Bullard for OpEdNews.com. 24 November 2007.
Environmental Justice for All What happens to our country's garbage isn't only an environmental issue. It's a human rights and health issue, too. And for some communities-particularly working class communities of color, it's also a life or death matter. Across the US-from the South Bronx, an area riddled with waste treatment facilities and incinerators; to Chicago's "toxic donut" of clustered hazardous waste landfills; to Louisiana's "Cancer Alley," where oil refineries and chemical plants pump foul air over the Mississippi shoreline-communities of color are bearing the toxic burdens of our industrial way of life. Neighborhoods near toxic facilities such as the one on Eno Road in Dickson, Tennessee where Sheila Holt-Orsted grew up often suffer debilitating health effects from the harmful chemicals released by these facilities-chemicals often linked to birth defects, hormone disruption, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. The Dickson County Landfill, located just 54 feet from the Holt family’s 150-acre farm, leaked the deadly trichloroethylene (TCE) into their drinking wells. Article by Tracy Fernandez Rysavy for Co-op America Quarterly Fall 2007. To view the full article please click HERE. 10 October 2007. (PDF)
The environmental justice braintrust: A dispatch from the Congressional Black Caucus conference Appropriately, the theme of this year's 37th annual Congressional Black Caucus Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C., was "Unleashing Our Power." For the first time in history, the U.S. House of Representatives has four African-Americans serving as chairpersons of major committees. In addition, 17 African-Americans lead major subcommittees, and Rep. James Clyburn of South Carolina is the House Majority Whip. Activists and health experts hope that this change in leadership will help enact serious environmental justice legislation to promote safe and healthy communities. Article by Lauren Trevisan for Grist.com. 3 October 2007
Environmental racism takes Senate stage. Sheila Holt-Orsted sat quietly in the Senate hearing room in the Dirksen Senate Office Building while before her a dream was fulfilled: the first Congressional hearing on environmental justice. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), chairwoman of the Environmental and Public Works Committee's Subcommittee on Superfund and Environmental Health, held the unprecedented hearing on July 25. Article by James Wright for AFRO News. 1 August 2007.
Emmy Nomination for Contamination and a Crusade Video. The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (NATAS) recently announced that Washington Post videojournalist Pierre Kattar’s video, Contamination and a Crusade, won a national Emmy Nomination in the Broadband Documentary category. The short video details the struggle of Dickson, Tennessee resident Sheila Holt Orsted who says her family wasn’t properly warned after toxic waste at a nearby landfill polluted their well water. Sheila is now battling cancer, and the officials who refute her allegation of environmental racism. Read the story A Well of Pain by Lynne Duke and view the Photo Gallery. August 2007
Senate Holds First Hearing on Environmental Justice: LDF Client, Sheila Holt Attends Hearing. The Senate held the first-ever hearing on environmental justice on Wednesday, July 25, 2007, in Washington, D.C. LDF client Sheila Holt, whose family is suing government officials and several private companies for polluting the family's groundwater with cancer-causing chemicals, attended the hearing. NAACP Legal Defense Fund and Educational Fund, Inc. 26 July 2007.
Woman Blames Water Contamination For Cancer Cases. Sheila Holt-Orsted has been fighting cancer, as have several members of her family. After they started getting sick, Holt-Orsted learned their drinking water was contaminated and while some people knew about it, her family was not told of the danger. 9NEWS NOW. 26 July 2007.
Tennessee family's case spurs Senate hearing. A Black Tennessee family's troubles with environmental racism spurred a U.S. Senate hearing on the matter. The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing took place on July 26 at the Dirksen Senate Office Building. Sheila Holt-Orsted has been trying to get the Environmental Protection Agency to clean up her neighborhood in Dickson, Tenn., her hometown, after it was discovered that it sits on top of a toxic waste dump. Holt-Orsted, whose problems getting a response from the EPA has drawn national media attention, recently met with the Congressional Black Caucus and Sen. Hillary R. Clinton (D-N.Y.) on the ongoing issue. The Afro American Newspapers. 25 July 2007.
Dirty justice. On Jan. 9, 2007, Harry Holt died. He was 66. He died without media fanfare, despite his status as the founder of the the gospel group, the Dynamic Dixie Travelers. He died from a disease that has afflicted thousands of Americans; except, his own government might have killed him. The Afro American Newspapers. 25 July 2007.
Groups Seek NAACP Help in “Burying” Toxic Racism. Representatives from the National Black Environmental Justice Network (NBEJN) traveled to Detroit as part of a delegation calling on NAACP leaders to take on environmental justice and environmental racism as a national campaign. NBEJN is a national preventive health and environmental and economic justice network with affiliates in 33 states and the District of Columbia. The nation’s oldest civil rights organization held its 2007 national convention in the Motor City. 13 July 2007.
Troubled Waters. The government told the Holts their water was safe to drink. But when several family members came down with deadly diseases, suddenly they weren’t so sure. ESSENCE’s writer Cynthia Gordy traveled to Tennessee and followed Sheila Holt Orsted and her family to Capitol Hill to report on their charges of environmental racism and their continuing fight for justice. ESSENCE, 1 July 2007.
Poisoned Water: Negligence or Racism. Sheila Holt-Orsted smiles as she remembers a simple pleasure of growing up in the Tennessee countryside: the ice-cold water that flowed from the faucets of the family farm. People Magazine. 14 May 2007.
Study: Mostly minorities live near hazardous waste. Nearly 90 percent of the people who live near a commercial hazardous waste site in the Baton Rouge area are minorities, according to a new study. The burden of pollution falling on black people here and nationally has gotten worse rather than better in the past 20 years, according to Robert Bullard of Clark Atlanta University. Bullard has done a lot of research on “environmental justice” in Louisiana and the South and is one of the authors of a new study, “Toxics at Twenty.” It reprised a 1987 study that showed the burden of pollution falls more heavily on minority communities. Bullard was in Baton Rouge on Friday as part of a National Conference of Black Mayors panel on environmental issues confronting urban areas. 2theadvocate.com. 9 May 2007.
The Color of Environmental Deception. Dickson County appears to be an idyllic, rural community of rolling farmland in north-central Tennessee. But just below the surface is a poisonous example of environmental racism, with tragic consequences for three generations of Harry Holt's family. The Holt family claims that government officials intentionally discriminated against the family by failing to inform them of the dangers more than a decade after notifying other families in the area. NAACP Legal Defense Fund and Educational Fund. 4 May 2007.
Fighting Environmental Racism. The National Conference of Black Mayors unveiled a partnership Friday with environmental consultants Envirosource and Historically Black Colleges and Universities aimed at studying the impact of landfills on African-American communities. Robert Bowser, mayor of East Orange, N.J. and president of the National Conference of Black Mayors, said that 2,800 of the 3,000 landfills in the U.S. today are located in African-American communities. The National Conference of Black Mayors is having its annual convention in Baton Rouge this week. In addition, Bowser said the HBCUs and minority-owned Envirosource are looking at alternative disposal methods that are a lot cleaner that traditional landfills. The catch is that the alternative disposal methods require more volume than smaller cities can generate, he said. Diverse Online. 4 May 2007
A family still cries out for justice in toxic waste case. After 20 years, one would think that certain horrific situations would get better. Unfortunately, that's not the case when it comes to exposing people of color to toxic wastes. As we celebrate Earth Day, Dickson County has been declared the "poster child for environmental racism in 2007" in a new report on race and toxic waste. Nashville Tennessean, Tennessee. 22 April 2007
EcoWellness: Race and hazardous waste. Twenty years after a landmark study proved a link between hazardous-waste sites and minority neighborhoods, the phenomenon has only settled deeper into U.S. towns and cities, a new report says. United Press International. 30 March 2007.
A closer look at a toxic dumping case. NPR’s News & Notes Show features Sheila Holt-Orsted who believes she got cancer from drinking well water contaminated by a landfill near her Tennessee home — and that city, county, and state officials knew but did nothing because she is black. Holt-Orsted and her lawyer, Matthew Colangelo of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, speak with Cheryl Corley. 26 March 2007.
New UCC report shows minorities still hurt by environmental injustice. Environmental injustice in minority communities is as much or more prevalent today than 20 years ago, according to the Toxic Wastes and Race at Twenty: 1987-2007 report released by the United Church of Christ. The new report includes two detailed case studies, one on post-Katrina New Orleans, Louisiana and the other on toxic contamination in an African American community in Dickson, Tennessee. 23 March 2007.
Racism alleged in polluted well case. A Tennessee woman whose family has been ravaged by cancer alleges racism played a role in how authorities dealt with their polluted well water. ScienceDaily. 20 March 2007.
well of pain. One family's water was poisoned by chemicals --
was their treatment poisoned by racism? Lynne Duke’s in-depth investigative
piece reports on the toxic nightmare experienced by Sheila Holt Orsted and
her family in Dickson, Tennessee. Washington
Post. 20 March 2007.
Nightmare on eno road timeline. Dickson County covers more than 490 square miles—an equivalent of 313,600 acres. However, the only cluster of solid waste facilities in the county is located just 54-feet from a 150-acre farm owned by the Harry Holt family, African American landowners that have lived in the Eno Road community for five generations—turning this family’s American dream into a hellish nightmare. After slavery, dozens of black families acquired hundreds of acres of land, not part of the empty “40 acres and a mule” government promise—and lived a quiet and peaceful existence in Dickson’s historically black Eno Road community. That is, until their wells were poisoned by the county landfill. The black family has been especially harmed by the toxic assaults of the city and county landfills and by government inaction. 26 February 2007.
Zahn Now. The death of a black man (Harry “Highway”
Holt) in Dickson, Tennessee raises a very disturbing question: Why weren't
black families warned that their water could kill them? 30 January 2007.
Family traces tainted water to racial discrimination. A case of potentially toxic drinking water in Dickson County caught the attention of Erin Brockovich and the late attorney Johnny Cochran six years ago. Nashville News Channel 5, Tennessee. 12 January 2007.
Dickson city and county (Tennessee) settle leaky landfill with white families, but not with black family. On November 6, in a special called meeting, Dickson County (Tennessee) Commissioners voted unanimously to settle lawsuits with several white families that had alleged ground water contamination from the leaky Dickson County Landfill located in the historically black Eno Road community. The city and county have now settled with all of the white families, but have refused to deal fairly with the Harry Holt family-an African American family whose wells were contaminated by the landfill. 6 November 2006.
Tavis Smiley Show. Robert Bullard, Ware Professor of Sociology and Director of the Environmental Justice Resource Center at Clark Atlanta University and Sheila Holt-Orsted discuss Holt-Orsted’s family’s fight against cancer and environmental racism as they participate in the nationwide Environmental Justice bus caravan tour taking place this week. 29 September 2006.
Poisoned on eno road. The world of environmental racism is a subject that doesn’t get nearly enough attention. New York Times. Bob Herbert Opinion, 2 October 2006.
Poisoned water, government response, and race: Black families still must wait longer for protection. All levels of government failed to provide equal environmental and health protection of black families in Dickson TN and DeBerry, TX as required under the U.S. Constitution. African Americans, like other Americans, should not have to wait for dead bodies to line their streets to get government officials to respond swiftly and fairly to environmental health threats and to man-made disasters. Dissident Voice, 31 August 2006.
Earth Day rallies take different spins. For residents involved in a rally held with members of the Dickson County NAACP and Tennessee Coalition for Environmental Justice, it was about calling for more action on a real environmental problem affecting their community: cleanup of the Dickson County landfill. Nashville Tennessean, Tennessee. 23 April 2006.
Deadly "Tennessee Two-Step" Keeps Leaky Landfill Away from Officials' Homes. The Harry Holt family's homestead in Dickson, Tennessee is just 54 feet from the Dickson County Landfill property line. Where do the locally elected officials live? On average, the twenty Dickson City council and County commissioners live nearly 5.5 miles from the controversial landfill and for years have had access to clean City tap water. 5 April 2006.
County says bill will slow down lawsuits. The Dickson County Commission voted unanimously Monday night to send a resolution to the General Assembly telling them to vote no on a proposed bill calling for a study of "environmental racism" in Dickson County. Dickson Herald, Tennessee. 24 March 2006.
Proposed state bill seeks to verify racism claims. A new state bill planned would require the DEC to conduct a study into the allegations of environmental racism in the Eno Road community near the Dickson County Landfill. Dickson Herald, Tennessee. 10 March 2006.
Toxic terror in a Tennessee town. The lethargic response by state officials allowed a black family to drink contaminated water for twelve years. This is not only unjust, unfair, and immoral, it should be illegal. Racism created the toxic disaster in Dickson's Eno Road community. Unlike the Hurricane Katrina disaster that washed away New Orleans and parts of the Gulf Coast in the Summer of 2005, the disaster in Dickson is a "slow-moving" disaster that has remained invisible for decades. Whether in New Orleans or Dickson, African Americans have learned the hard way that waiting for the government to respond quickly and fairly can be hazardous to their health. 22 February 2006.
Dickson County, Tennessee Eno Road Slideshow. The Eno Road community in Dickson County, Tennessee was founded during the “Jim Crow” segregation era. The rural and isolated black community had its own segregated schools, churches, park, and cemetery. 22 February 2006.
Local NAACP branch seeks answers. Had he not been slain by an assassin's bullet, civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would have led a protest against "environmental racism," say organizers of a move to seek compensation from the local government and a former automotive company involving groundwater contamination near a landfill. Dickson Herald, Tennessee. 18 January 2006.
More blacks live with pollution. An Associated Press analysis of a little-known government research project shows that black Americans are 79 percent more likely than whites to live in neighborhoods where industrial pollution is suspected of posing the greatest health danger. Associated Press. 14 December 2005.
Group claims environmental racism. Handmade signs with sayings such as "toxic chemicals know no color" and "poisoned water affects all" were held by people attending a rally Monday morning to bring attention to the contaminated water problems near the Dickson County Landfill. Dickson Herald, Tennessee. 23 November 2005.
Racial discrimination amendment could be tagged to lawsuit. Dickson County Circuit Court Judge George Sexton ruled that an African-American family could add a racial discrimination amendment to their lawsuit involving the alleged toxic poisoning of their well water near the Dickson County Landfill. Shelia Holt Orsted, 43, a breast cancer victim whose family has been besieged with cancer and other health problems which they claim in lawsuits was caused by the illegal dumping of the cancer causing agent trichloroethylene or TCE by a now defunct tire valve plant that operated in the county on Tennsco Drive from 1964 to 1985. The lawsuit maintains that the company transported its waste containing the cancer causing chemical TCE to the county landfill where it leaked into ground water wells. Dickson Herald, Tennessee. 24 November 2004
County commission tables decision to pay families’ water bills. Harry Holt addressed the Dickson County Commission Monday during its work session to ask why the county had discontinued payment of his water bill. TCE (trichloroethylene) was originally detected in Holt’s wells in 1991, but the family said they were assured the water was safe to drink. A proposed resolution to continue water bill payments for Harry Holt, Lavenia Holt, Kay Stewart and Ann Sullivan was tabled in the commission work session, meaning the item will not be included on the agenda of the county’s regular meeting June 21. Dickson Herald, Tennessee. 9 June 2004.
Funding approved for landfill investigation. Dickson County may spend as much as $470,000 next year for engineering work and related expenses at the Dickson County Landfill to address the migration of toxic industrial waste from the landfill into residents’ private wells and water sources identified in a state investigation of the site. Dickson Herald, Tennessee. 20 May 2004.
Holt family files suit against county. A lawsuit has been filed in Dickson County Circuit Court by members of the Harry Holt family seeking compensation for health problems and damages to their property as a result of contaminated groundwater near the Dickson County Landfill. The complaint was filed earlier this month against Scovill-Saltire Inc., Alper Holdings USA Inc., which owns 100 percent of Scovill-Saltire stock, Ebbtide Corporation, Dickson County and the city of Dickson. The suit claims the Holt family has suffered health problems because of contaminated groundwater from chemicals dumped years ago at the Dickson County Landfill. Dickson Herald, Tennessee. December 16, 2003
Family's suit says water poisoned from landfill. The Holt family in Dickson County filed a lawsuit yesterday alleging that toxic waste at the county landfill poisoned their well water and caused cancer and other illnesses in their family. Filed on behalf of 11 members of the Holt family, the suit seeks unspecified damages from two companies that dumped waste at the landfill, as well as from Dickson County and the city of Dickson. Nashville Tennessean, Tennessee. 4 December 2003.
Dickson residents scold officials over fouled wells. Dickson County residents who drank contaminated well water angrily confronted state officials yesterday during a panel discussion on environmental injustice sponsored by the Black Cultural Center at Vanderbilt University. Nashville Tennessean, Tennessee. 24 October 2003.
users wonder which companies to sue for pollution. A convoluted
mass of confusion is perhaps the best way to describe the search for who's
responsible for contaminated well water caused during a manufacturing plant's
20-year operation in Dickson. Nashville
Tennessean, Tennessee. 7 October 2003.
Contamination problems date back almost 40 years. The Dickson Herald has compiled a list of pertinent facts and dates relating to the groundwater contamination issues around the Dickson County Landfill and other dump sites, documented by county, state and federal agencies for more than 30 years. Dickson Herald, Tennessee. 4 October 2003.
Contamination beyond landfill, records show. Toxic groundwater contamination from an automotive manufacturing plant extends beyond barrels buried in the Dickson County landfill to residential areas near the plant and to four sites where the company dumped its waste illegally, according to state records and a pending lawsuit. Nashville Tennessean, Tennessee. 23 September 2003.
Legal eagles may fall flat. Erin Brockovich and Johnnie Cochran Jr. may not hold much clout with juries in Tennessee courtrooms... their law firms are investigating groundwater contamination in Dickson County and its possible effects on drinking water and health. Nashville Tennessean, Tennessee. 15 September 2003.
Cochran's law firm shows interest in Dickson landfill. High-powered attorney Johnnie Cochran, Jr. and his law firm looked into the Dickson County Landfill case. Nashville Tennessean, Tennessee. 12 September 2003.
Dickson landfill area will be warned. The warnings, to be mailed in the next two weeks, follow a controversy that erupted when a family living next to the landfill demanded that the county landfill director be fired, saying he promised them that their well water was safe to drink. Nashville Tennessean, Tennessee. 6 September 2003.
Water assurances were lies, commissioners told. Dozens of members of the Holt family descended on a Dickson County Commission meeting last night, carrying protest signs and complaining angrily. The family has been plagued with cancer and other illnesses and blames the health problems on contamination of their drinking water supply by the county landfill. Nashville Tennessean, Tennessee. 3 September 2003.
Family blames health woes on Dickson's landfill. Dozens of members of the Holt family said they believe the illnesses plaguing their loved ones were caused by well water contamination from the Dickson County Landfill. Nashville Tennessean, Tennessee. 2 September 2003.