Two Alpha Natural Resources Owned Facilities Violate Clean Water Safeguards in West Virginia
May 23, 2012
On May 9, a coalition of citizen and environmental groups took action to stop pollution from two coal mining facilities operated by Alpha Natural Resources subsidiaries Marfork Coal and Independence Coal in West Virginia.
The groups found that the Marfork-owned Brushy Fork Slurry Impoundment and the Independence-owned Crescent No. 2 Surface Mine are both violating key protections in the Clean Water Act and surface mining laws.
The groups bringing the suit, Coal River Mountain Watch, Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, West Virginia Highlands Conservancy and Sierra Club, are seeking to compel the Alpha-owned companies to install protections that will ensure selenium and other toxins no longer pollute local rivers and streams.
The Brushy Fork Slurry impoundment is the largest of its kind in West Virginia. The impoundment - which holds seven billion gallons of coal sludge and waste from nearby coal operations - is believed to be the largest earthen dam in the western hemisphere. Citizen groups, hydrologists and even the United Mine Workers have raised significant concerns over the dam’s size and structural integrity. Many local residents are deeply concerned about their ability to evacuate safely in case of failure. Should Brushy Fork fail it would be even more catastrophic than the 1972 Buffalo Creek disaster which killed 125 people when 132 million gallons of coal slurry broke through an earthen dam.
Selenium, a toxic element that causes reproductive failure and deformities in fish and other forms of aquatic life, is discharged from many surface coal mining operations across Appalachia. Selenium accumulates in the tissues of aquatic organisms over time, and experts predict that waterways across Appalachia could be on the brink of collapse due to increasing levels of the pollutant.
Coal River Mountain Watch, Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, West Virginia Highlands Conservancy and Sierra Club are represented in this matter by Derek Teaney and Joe Lovett of Appalachian Mountain Advocate
Details and Documents:
Groups Act to Protect Waterways Harmed by Notorious Brushy Fork Sludge Lake
May 9, 2012, Sierra Club et al. Press Release
See other "Stopping Mountaintop Removal and Other Destructive Mining" cases.