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Western Coal sued over WV mine drainage

A TRIO of environmental groups has filed suit against Canadian operator Western Coal for allegedly allowing selenium to pollute two creeks near one of its West Virginian mines.

Donna Schmidt
Western Coal sued over WV mine drainage

The Associated Press reported Thursday that the Sierra Club, the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition and the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy had filed a lawsuit Tuesday in federal court.

The groups claim in the documentation that Western subsidiary Maple Coal is violating pollution discharge limits at its Sycamore surface operation, which is in both Kanawha and Fayette counties.

The suit is seeking a court order that would require Maple to cease the illegal discharge of excess selenium and impose civil fines for past violations and attorney fees.

Neither the groups nor Western released public statement Thursday.

The US Mine Safety and Health Administration accused the operator late last year of under-reporting its injury record to avoid being placed on a potential pattern of violations target list. As part of its audit, the agency discovered 12 unreported or under-reported injuries which resulted in 124 missed days of work.

"We will not simply rely on injury data submitted by mine operators when conducting reviews for a potential POV enforcement action," MSHA director Joe Main said at the time.

"MSHA will continue to conduct audits at mine operations that appear close to qualifying for a potential POV."

Western’s wholly owned Maple complex is just east of Charleston and features a processing plant, the Eagle underground mine and the Sycamore surface mine.

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