For Immediate Release
July 16, 2012
Jim Sconyers, West Virginia Sierra Club, 304 698-9628, firstname.lastname@example.org
Vivian Stockman, Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, 304 360-1979, Vivian@ohvec.org
Cindy Rank, West Virginia Highlands Conservancy, 304 924-5802, email@example.com
Sean Sarah, Sierra Club, 202 548-4589
Coalition Acts to Protect Waterways from Pollution at 9 Alpha Natural Resources Facilities
Coal Mines and Associated Facilities Discharging Toxic Pollutants into Local
Charleston, WV – Today, a coalition of citizen and
environmental groups took action to stop pollution coming from 9 different coal
mining facilities owned by subsidiaries of Alpha Natural Resources. The mines,
located in Logan, McDowell, Boone, and Kanawha counties, all violate key
protections in the Clean Water Act and Surface Mining laws regarding selenium
pollution from mountaintop removal or traditional mines and associated
facilities. The groups bringing the action, Ohio Valley Environmental
Coalition, West Virginia Highlands Conservancy and Sierra Club, seek to ensure
Alpha installs the appropriate protections at these sites, which would improve the
quality of West Virginia waterways for the residents and natural life that
depend on them.
Mountaintop removal coal mines often
cause serious selenium pollution in waterways, and treating that pollution is
extremely expensive and labor-intensive. Today's legal action reinforces the
message to coal executives that mountaintop removal mining is not in their
"Is widespread and ongoing toxic
pollution of our streams what Alpha means by 'Running Right?,'" said Jim
Sconyers, Chair of the West Virginia Sierra Club. "Alpha needs to stop this, and to
stop making the people and streams pay the price for Alpha's toxic coal mining."
Alpha Natural Resources is the nation’s third largest coal producer
and, after its recent acquisition of Massey Energy, is now the largest
mountaintop removal mining company in the country, responsible for about 25% of
coal production from mountaintop removal mines. In December 2011, the groups
reached a settlement with Alpha regarding selenium pollution at three facilities.
That settlement required Alpha to treat the selenium pollution at an estimated construction
cost of over $50 million, and to pay additional penalties of $4.5 million.
Since entering into that settlement, the groups discovered selenium pollution at
the facilities named in today’s legal challenge.
"Growing scientific evidence points
to a human health crisis in mountaintop removal communities," said Dianne Bady with the Ohio Valley
Environmental Coalition. "The voices of the residents who have been telling
of this health crisis for over a decade now have been drowned out by coal
propaganda and by the politicians who do coal's bidding."
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.
"The evidence continues to mount
that the long term legacy of streams polluted by harmful levels of selenium
from these and other mines has become as costly and devastating as the
thousands of miles of streams already destroyed by acid mine drainage,"
said Cindy Rank of the West Virginia
Highlands Conservancy. "Permits must not be granted where mining
will only further damage the health of our water and those residents now and in
the future who depend on that water."
The groups are represented in this matter by Derek Teaney and Joe
Lovett of Appalachian Mountain Advocates.
The mining facilities at
issue and their subsidiary owners are:
No. 2 Surface Mine, Logan
County, Alex Energy
- Camp Branch facility, Logan County, Aracoma Coal Co.
Mountain Surface Mine, Bandmill Coal Corp.
Fork Surface Mine, Highland Mining Co.
Surface Mine, Independence Coal Co.
Dunn Preparation Plant, Kanawha
County, Jacks Branch
Creek Surface mine, Kanawha
County, Jacks Branch
- Stockton Mine, Kanawha
County, Jacks Branch
Fork Surface Mine, Kanawha Energy