Residents in parts of South Memphis join councilman against proposed Byhalia Pipeline

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Residents in parts of South Memphis, like Boxtown, Westwood and Whitehaven are joining their city councilman against a proposed Byhalia Pipeline.

“I do not want to be a Flint, Michigan,” said Memphis Councilman Edmund Ford Sr. during the committee meeting Tuesday.

ORIGINAL STORY: Memphis councilmember fears Byhalia pipeline could be similar to Flint’s water situation

One man, who has lived near Westwood for more than 20 years, said he’s tired of his community feeling neglected.

“It makes me very upset, because the people that got the money and the power, that’s what they focus on, ever since the ’70s, they always focus on the poor black communities, brown skin people,” said Terry Stevison.

Stevison is one of many residents fighting to make sure the Byhalia Connection Pipeline doesn’t come to his community.

Leaders criticized the project saying African American neighborhoods would be the hardest hit and residents could face health issues.

“Why they ain’t having a meeting where they saying they finnin to run a pipeline through Germantown, Cordova, downtown? They ain’t saying that. They want to put it out in the poor black neighborhoods,” Stevison explained.

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Memphis councilmembers said they are trying to pass a resolution to oppose the plan.

“They willing to make money to run a pipeline out here so they can make more millions of dollars, but where the money going to go? It ain’t going to go to the poor neighborhoods,” Stevison stated.

Plains All American Pipeline, one of the companies that want to build the pipeline, sent FOX13 a statement saying they’re dedicated to pipeline safety and ensuring that their pipelines meet or exceed the applicable standards for pipeline construction and operation.

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But that’s not how residents see it.

“If we can’t get no support over here to change, it’s going to get worse before it gets any better,” Stevison said. “We going to demand what we want for our neighborhood to be done.”

Ford also called on Rep. Cohen, who has already been outspoken about the Byhalia Connection Pipeline, to intervene.

In January, Cohen requested answered from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Headquarters.

“Several of my constituents are rightly apprehensive about this proposed pipeline and have had little opportunity to submit their comments and concerns. They do not wish to see their invaluable resource, the Memphis Sand aquifer, to be susceptible to a disastrous oil spill. They do not want to see their communities taken advantage of by an oil company interested in its bottom line. As my father’s chemistry teacher told him once, ‘Water internal, water external, water eternal.’ We must value our city’s drinking water and protect it at all costs. We must protect our communities,” Cohen said.

“I strongly urge you to not fast-track approval for this proposed pipeline and use due diligence in making your decision. The impacted citizens of this proposed pipeline deserve nothing less.”

The full press release from Congressman Cohen can be read here.

City Council’s resolution asks MLGW to refuse an easement across any of its property for the project.

Council will discuss this issue again in two weeks.