Groups take action to hold corporate landowner responsible for coal mining pollution in Virginia
July 31, 2012
On July 30, 2012, a coalition of citizen and environmental groups filed an action with the U.S. District Court of Western Virginia claiming that Penn Virginia Resource Partners is violating Clean Water Act protections at 14 locations on 7 former surface mining sites in Wise County, Virginia. For the first time, Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards, Appalachian Voices and the Sierra Club are seeking to ensure that the owner of lands formerly used as surface mines is held accountable for the legacy of pollution from coal mining.
Penn Virginia, based out of Radnor, Pennsylvania is the largest private land owner in Wise County, Virginia. They own more than 5,500 acres of land in the county worth more than $13 million.
“Penn Virginia has for decades been buying up land and leasing it to coal companies that have been polluting our streams, blowing up our mountains, and destroying our communities and culture,” said Matt Helper an Organizer for Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards. “They need to be held accountable for the pollution problems that these mines sites are still causing decades after they were closed down.”
Pollution from surface mines is not limited to ones currently in operation. Because the ultimate source of the pollution comes from valley fills and other material that remains on site, abandoned and even reclaimed mined sites continue to discharge pollution. In many cases the owners of former mine sites do not have Clean Water Act discharge permits for these sites. Typically, these owners are large land holding companies who also own active mountaintop removal coal mining sites. Federal and state regulators typically do not monitor the discharges from these former mine sites.
The Sierra Club, Appalachian Voices and Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards are represented in this matter by Joe Lovett and Isak Howell of Appalachian Mountain Advocates.
Details and Documents:
July 30, 2012, Sierra Club Press Release
See other "Stopping Mountaintop Removal and Other Destructive Mining" cases.