Coal Tattoo

This just in from the Sierra Club and other groups:

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.

The release continues:

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.

Cindy Rank, mining chairwoman for the Highlands Conservancy, said:

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. 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.