Sierra Club attacks Alpha's WV ops

THE Sierra Club has filed a federal lawsuit against coal giant Alpha Natural Resources for allegedly violating toxicity standards in water discharged at two West Virginia operations.
Sierra Club attacks Alpha's WV ops Sierra Club attacks Alpha's WV ops Sierra Club attacks Alpha's WV ops Sierra Club attacks Alpha's WV ops Sierra Club attacks Alpha's WV ops

Alpha Natural Resources corporate headquarters.

Justin Niessner

The San Francisco-based organization will be joined by three regional environmental groups in the suit, targeting Alpha’s Crescent No. 2 coal mine and a 7 billion-gallon slurry impoundment which Sierra has called “the largest earthen dam in the western hemisphere”

Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition project coordinator Vivian Stockman said if the Brushy Fork dam failed, the results would be immediately catastrophic.

“[T]he ongoing pollution violations from these sites are a slow-motion catastrophe for the health of nearby communities and for the health of our democracy,” she said.

“These companies should not be violating laws as a routine part of doing business and the state regulators should not routinely let them get away with it.”

The environmental groups are asking Alpha subsidiaries Independence Coal and Marfork Coal to pay civil penalties of up to $37,500 a day per violation of selenium limits, according to a report by international energy information provider Platts.

Neither Alpha nor the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection has yet publicly responded to the claims which levy blame on both parties.

“Once again, the citizens being harmed by Alpha’s ‘running right over us’ policy of pollution must sue because the WV DEP is either unfit or unwilling to perform its mandated duties,” Coal River Mountain Watch executive director Vernon Haltom said in a statement.

“Alpha must understand that our streams and back yards are not their waste dumps and the WV DEP must understand that the health and safety of communities must come before company profits.”

The lawsuit follows closely the heels of recent court action by a Sierra-led group of environmental organizations against an A&G Coal project in Virginia and government plans to sell coal leases in the Wyoming portion of the Powder River Basin.

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