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New water pollution suit filed against Massey

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Four environmental groups have just filed a major new water pollution lawsuit against Massey Energy.

The suit targets Massey for allegedly violating permit limits for toxic aluminum at as many as 16 mines covered by seven Clean Water Act permits in West Virginia. The suit names Massey subsidiaries Elk Run Coal Co., Independence Coal Co., Marfork Coal Co., Peerless Eagle Coal Coal, and Power Mountain Coal Co.

According to a news release, some of the mines involved are also violating permit limits for other pollutants, including iron, pH, and suspended solids. In total, these mines racked up approximately 3,300 days of permit violations in the period from April 2008 through December 2009.

The suit was filed in U.S. District Court in Charleston and a copy is posted here.

This suit follows a formal notice of intent to sue that was filed in January (see previous posts here and here). It was filed on behalf of the Sierra Club, the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, Coal River Mountain Watch and the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy.

Judy Bonds of Coal River Mountain Watch said:

Massey puts profits before people in communities. Massey is an outlaw company that continues to show contempt for the people of Appalachia.

Dianne Bady, co-director of the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, said:

Massey’s water pollution violations seem as widespread as its safety violations. This lawsuit is part of our larger efforts to protect human health in the coalfields.

Don’t forget that Massey not so long ago paid a record $20 million in penalties to settle a federal government lawsuit over water pollution from its coal mines across the West Virginia and Kentucky coalfields.

Updated:

Massey spokesman Jeff Gillenwater issued this statement –

The lawsuit lacks merit.  Massey Energy’s compliance rate with Clean Water Act requirements is well above 99%.  Massey offered to meet with these groups – who are opposed to coal mining generally – to discuss their concerns, but these groups chose to file a lawsuit instead.  We will defend the suit vigorously.