All I can say is “It’s about damn time”.
If anyone affiliated with the municipal government read Aimee Edmondson’s award-winning series for The Commercial Appeal about the high infant mortality rate in the 38108 ZIP code referenced here, there’s been no evidence of it.
Ditto for the county government. Ditto for the state government. And don’t even get me started on the feds.
So it was nice to see this on the Action News 5 website today:
A class action lawsuit claims to prove that there is a link between the infant mortality rate in one Memphis neighborhood and the chemicals that polluted a nearby creak.
Okay, it was less nice to see that whoever wrote the copy for that story can’t spell the word “creek” properly, but the news is good.
The case will be tried by Javier Bailey, recent candidate for Chairman of the Shelby County Democratic Party Executive Committee, and focuses on one company, Velsicol. The suit alleges that the high infant mortality rate is the direct result of chemical spills into Cypress Creek.
I don’t know that there’s only one factor, and I don’t know that Velsicol is the culprit. Every time I’ve wondered about the infant mortality rate there, my thoughts have run back to the North Hollywood Dump, a former Superfund site allegedly cleaned up in 1997. Of course, it was in such nasty shape that the dumping that took place there in the 1930’s and 40’s was still considered to be a problem in the 1980’s and 90’s.
There are many other factors that could lead to a high infant mortality rate as well— Lack of prenatal care, high teenage birth rates, and abject poverty, among others.
Those require a lifetime investment in time. And these communities need to elect leaders that are willing to work on those problems. If they can’t speak to the issue, then don’t give them the job, ferchrissake.
If there’s an outside factor that is causing that rate to go up, the people deserve to know. And lawsuits such as this one are how that happens.