Stream Pollution from Coal Mine Prompts Groups to Act
October 11, 2010
Sierra Club and West Virginia Highlands Conservancy have filed an enforcement action against Fola Coal Company for allegedly polluting waters downstream from its massive surface mine in Nicholas and Clay counties. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, and the company itself have conducted studies showing that waters immediately below the mine are significantly degraded. These studies reveal that Twenty Mile Creek and Boardtree Branch, both of which receive waste discharges from the 1700-acre surface mine, are biologically impaired and toxic to aquatic life.
As Jim Sconyers, Chair of Sierra Club's West Virginia Chapter, said, "[t]he terrible water quality we're seeing in the streams right below this Fola coal mine proves the danger of the toxic soup the mining companies dump into our water. Even if a company stays within its permit limit for individual pollutants, the total damage from all of the pollution can still be deadly to fish and other aquatic life."
Scientists have measured the toxicity of the water at more than eleven times the EPA standard. In addition, experts found levels of conductivity - another scientific measurement that indicates harmful pollution - that were five times higher than the point at which EPA predicts harm to water quality. The legal challenge, which alleges violations of both the Clean Water Act and the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act, seeks to enforce water quality standards that prohibit discharges that are harmful to aquatic life and ecosystems.
Sierra Club is represented by Jim Hecker of Public Justice and Joe Lovett and Derek Teaney of the Appalachian Center for the Economy and the Environment.
Details and Documents:
Stream Pollution from Coal Mine Prompts Legal Challenge from West Virginia Residents
Sierra Club & WV Highlands Conservancy Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief and for Civil Penalties
October 11, 2010, Sierra Club & WV Highlands Conservancy Press Release
October 11, 2010, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia
See other "Stopping Mountaintop Removal and Other Destructive Mining" cases.