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Mobile Residents Oppose More Oil Development

MOBILE, Ala. (WPMI) A group of Mobile residents wants to make sure they're not left out of future talks on oil infrastructure development. Members of the Tar Sands Mobile Coalition and the Mobile Bay Sierra Club met Tuesday evening at Five Rivers Delta Resource Center to share information.

Earlier Tuesday we learned the company behind a proposed petroleum storage tank facility on Hog Bayou will not bring the proposal before the Mobile Planning Commission on Thursday as planned. American Tank and Vessel is seeking permits to build that facility in the Plateau community.

"Plateau has been a dumping ground," said Ruth Taylor Ballard, "When we hear about anything in Plateau, it's already a done deal."

Plateau is the site for several industrial developments and is the former home of International Paper Company. Ballard showed up to Tuesday night's meeting to say enough is enough. She and others are calling for a different future for Plateau and Mobile as a whole; one free of heavy industry.

"We don't have to accept the heritage we've come to accept here," said Mobile native Tom Hutchings, "We need to be thinking about clean and better industry here."

The American Tank and Vessel facility is one of several with permits either in the works or already completed. Many of them are within a few hundred yards of residences.

"If everything, including this withdrawn proposal, were to go through, we would end up with about 169 tanks [along the waterfront]," said Mobile resident Brenda Bolton.

Also, in the works is a pipeline that would transport tar sands oil under Mobile River. Bolton questioned how this kind of development falls in line with the widely publicized plans to make downtown Mobile more attractive to visitors and events.

"That vision is in direct opposition to toxic, dirty, dangerous petro chemicals," she said.

Bolton and Ballard said they hope meetings like Tuesday night's will prompt more people to get involved in the approval process for new projects. 

"I would like to let the elected officials know that it is their responsibility to make the citizens of any community aware of what is coming into their neighborhood," Ballard said.

We reached out to American Tank and Vessel for comment on their proposed tank facility. They declined to comment on the proposal itself and if or when they will bring it before the Planning Commission.

We also left messages with Canadian National Railway, who would transport the crude oil through the pipeline under Mobile River. Our calls were not returned.

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