Coal Tattoo

Coalfield citizens got their say about the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection’s study of coal-slurry injection, and they didn’t hide their feelings about the agency’s efforts.

Joe Stanley, one of the representatives of the Sludge Safety Project , told members of the Legislature’s joint committee on water resources:

DEP has shown they are incompetent to regulate the injection of coal slurry.

DEP Secretary Randy Huffman, of course, has admitted that his agency’s study lacked adequate information to figure out if coal-slurry injection is polluting water supplies. Of course, agency officials permitted this practice for years without requiring the sort of information from coal operators that might be needed to answer such questions.

Also speaking for the citizens at today’s legislative interim meeting were Ben Stout of Wheeling Jesuit University and Maria Lambert from the Prenter area of Boone County. They ran through the findings of the Sludge Safety Project’s independent study of coal-slurry injection,  and urged lawmakers to take three actions:

— Support legislation to require safer coal processing and ban sludge.  We have research available on alternatives and would be happy to share that information. To put it briefly, industry estimates tell us that dry press filtration costs a dollar more per ton, and it involves a closed water loop.

 — We also ask that current injections be halted until companies complete the more rigorous application process recommended by the DEP in SCR-15. If the old application process is not sufficient to protect the public for new permits, why should we think that it is sufficient for existing ones?

— Most urgently, we ask that the committee mandate that the DHHR collect new health data for their study.