Riverkeeper group joins potential lawsuit against Mazda Toyota plant


spring pygmy sunfish

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. –  Huntsville city leaders hope to break ground on the new Mazda Toyota plant within a few months. Another environmental group is threatening a lawsuit hoping to protect a tiny fish swimming next door to the new plant.

“It’s a little green fish, about an inch big, with green stripes,” David Whiteside with Tennessee Riverkeeper said.

A tiny fish, that’s raising some very big concerns.

“We believe, even though it’s a small fish, it’s a rare fish and deserves to be protected,” Whiteside said.

This week, the group known as Tennessee Riverkeeper joined the Center for Biological Diversity in contacting both the City of Huntsville and Mazda Toyota. The groundwork for the future auto plant is being laid on the annexed land west of Huntsville.

“We have a commitment to make sure that site stays pristine,” Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle said. “And we have a commitment that we make sure we meet the environmental rules and regulations we have to meet.”

The spring in which the sunfish is found next to where the plant is being built. Mayor Battle argues project leaders have already studied the land, adding truckloads of dirt and material to divert any drainage away from the spring.

“The habitat it’s living in is better now than it was 6 months ago, better than it was 10 years ago, better than it was 100 years ago,” Mayor Battle said.