DOJ Investigates Discrimination in Alabama Sewage Failures

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In the wake of a discovery of hookworm in the rural south, the Justice Department has announced it will investigate whether access to sanitation systems in Alabama’s Lowndes county, a majority Black community, is based on race, reports The Guardian. The Department of Justice will examine whether the state and county health departments violated the civil rights of Black residents in Lowndes county, by blocking their access to adequate sanitation systems, thereby increasing their risk of a host of health problems such as parasitic infections.

Residents of Lowndes have been raising the alarm for years, prompting the United Nations special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights to criticize the dire lack of adequate sewerage in 2017. “The justice department is committed to fully enforcing our federal civil rights laws to address the legacy of environmental injustice that we face across the country,” Kristen Clarke, assistant attorney general for the justice department’s civil rights division. “That commitment includes the failure to provide basic wastewater infrastructure, in historically marginalized and overburdened communities of color.”

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