Woman pours water on former Alabama rep’s head in protest at hearing over EPA toxic coal ash storage plan

EPA argues existing Alabama regime for handling coal ash ponds risks water supply pollution

Josh Marcus
San Francisco
Thursday 21 September 2023 23:17 BST
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A protester poured a cup of water on the head of former Alabama state representative Kyle South in protest over how the state regulates the storage of toxic coal ash.

During a hearing featuring the federal Environmental Protection Action, which is seeking to deny Alabama’s Coal Ash Permit Program, and testimony from local residents, a woman Anne DiPrizio approached Mr South and launched into a speech to the rest of the hearing.

“I’m a former researcher at [University of Alabama at Birmingham] School of Public Health, I did my dissertation research on vulnerable populations,” she said. “Everybody knows that this is a spectacle, right? You created a spectacle. Y’all might say that’s crazy, that’s a crazy unhinged lady. I might be at this point.”

She then dumped the water over Mr South’s head.

Earlier in the hearing on Wednesday, Mr South, head of the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama, testified in support of Alabama’s existing regulatory regime, which allows toxic coal byproducts to be stored in unlined ponds near waterways.

"They’ve got a remediation process that’s legal, approved and everything else that the [Alabama Department of Environmental Management] allows within the [Environmental Protection Agency’s] rules," he said. "It’s almost like [the EPA] is trying to change the rules of the game mid-stream and there’s been a lot of back-and-forth about it."

“You look around those settings and everything’s pretty emotional to start with, then you get some people that are maybe a little too passionate about a topic and get them all bottled up in there together - these things tend to happen,” Mr South later told the Tuscaloosa Thread of the incident. “She kind of caught me off-guard but I was definitely not gonna give her the reaction that she was seeking.”

After Ms DiPrizo poured the water on the local leader’s head, she continued with a “tirade that was laced with obscenities and directed ire a nearly everyone present,” according to AL.com.

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