West Virginia Environmental Quality Board Rules Clean Water Act Permit for Massive Coal Mine is Inadequate
March 11, 2011
On March 10, Sierra Club achieved a monumental victory for West Virginia’s coalfield communities and waterways when the state Environmental Quality Board remanded Patriot’s Clean Water Act discharge permit for its New Hill West coal mine back to the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). The Board sided with Sierra Club and ordered DEP to include limits in the permit for toxic pollutants and pollutant parameters including conductivity, sulfate, and selenium.
In December 2010, Sierra Club participated in a four-day hearing on the permit appeal, providing extensive expert testimony on the harmful impacts of coal mine discharges and conductivity on nearby stream ecosystems. This win will benefit the Scotts Run Watershed and surrounding areas affected by the proposed mine, and is a culmination of Sierra Club’s efforts to bring greater attention to the devastating impacts of surface coal mining on waterways in Appalachia. The win could also lead to more stringent discharge limits for other surface coal mines in the region.
September 3, 2010
On September 3, Sierra Club took legal action to prevent Patriot Mining Company from dangerously disposing of coal ash and other forms of coal combustion waste at its New Hill West coal mine near Morgantown, West Virginia. The Club filed an appeal challenging the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection’s issuance of a permit that fails to include any limits necessary to prevent harm to streams and waterways. In particular, the permit fails to include any limits for toxic heavy metals and other pollutants commonly associated with coal combustion waste. Patriot Mining Company has indicated that it intends to dump between 1,000 to 10,000 tons of coal combustion waste per acre of mined area. The mine area covered under the challenged permit is 225 acres.
This most recent permit approval comes at the same time that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is considering new, stronger national regulations for the disposal of coal combustion waste in surface facilities. This month, EPA is holding hearings on the proposed regulations across the nation, including a hearing on September 21st in Pittsburgh. Although EPA’s proposed regulations do not apply to placement of coal combustion waste in mines, the regulations highlight the need for greater attention to the dangers posed by toxic coal combustion waste.
Sierra Club is represented by Joe Lovett of the Appalachian Center for the Economy and the Environment, and Peter Morgan of the Sierra Club Environmental Law Program.
Details and Documents:
Citizens Seek to Protect West Virginia Water from Mining Pollution and Dangerous Coal Ash Disposal
September 3, 2010, Sierra Club Press Release
W.Va. officials bicker over conductivity standard for mountaintop mining
April 27, 2011 by Manuel Quinones, Greenwire
EQB issues formal order on conductivity
March 25, 2011 by Ken Ward Jr., The Charleston Gazette
WVDEP ordered to set permit limits for conductivity
March 10, 2011 by Ken Ward Jr., The Charleston Gazette
Environmental group appeals permit decision for Mon County mine
September 8, 2010 by Ben Adducchio, West Virginia Public Broadcasting
See other "Stopping Mountaintop Removal and Other Destructive Mining" cases.