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Mine ponds ruled illegal – Judge deals second blow to coal industry by United States District Court

Friday, June 15th, 2007

Sediment pond up the hollow from house, just behind property line. Photo Courtesy of Rhonda HarperJune 14th, 2007

The coal industry receives another federal judgement against them. This time, a judge ruled that a 40 year old technique of waste and sediment removal is in violation of the Clean Water Act. The lawsuit was filed by the Appalachian Center for the Economy and the Environment, Coal River Mountain Watch, Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, and the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy.

Mine ponds ruled illegal – Judge deals second blow to coal industry by United States District Court
– By Ken Ward Jr.

Richmond, VA – Coal operators cannot evade the Clean Water Act by building sediment-treatment ponds just downstream from strip mine valley fills, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.

U.S. District Judge Robert C. Chambers essentially outlawed the common coal industry practice of turning small stream segments downstream from fills into waste treatment systems.

In a 26-page decision, Chambers concluded that the Clean Water Act protects parts of streams where mine operators traditionally build sediment-control ponds. The judge also said the law protects small segments of streams between those ponds and the bottom of valley fills.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Chambers declared, “has no authority under the Clean Water Act to permit the discharge of pollutants into these stream segments.”

Wednesday’s ruling is the second time in three months that Chambers has dealt a major blow to the coal industry with a ruling to more strictly regulate mountaintop removal mining.

. . .

Originally published in the Charleston Gazette in Charleston, WV. Click here to read the entire article.

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