Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition
Archive list of "E"- Notes newsletters

Click below to read articles online, or try the PDF version to view or print a replica of the paper newsletter.  Online version includes extra articles.

Winds of Change
December 2003


OVEC's Win in Clean Water Act Case Has Nationwide and MTR Permit Implications

Ode to Massey Coal - How to Do Energy All Wrong

Granny D, Doris Haddock: On the Road Again!

Massey Coal Ordered to Monitor for Mercury, Other Toxics

On the Road to Change

Flat Land, or Flat Out Lie?

Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining Arouses Passionate Comments During Comment Period

Your EIS Comments - Big Brother at OSM Is Watching Us!

Corps Idea of "Minimal Impact" Challenged in Court

Jack Spadaro's Story:
Work for MSHA, Tell
the Truth, Get Fired

WV Supreme Court Agrees to Hear OVEC Member's Case Against Arch Coal

Mountaintop Removal Mining Photos

Another Massive Massey Sludge Impoundment Proposed

Global Warming Topic of Annual Conference on the Environment

Guess What? Those Rules SAVE $$$

Even AEP knows global warming is real!

Sludge Impoundments in Spotlight - Again

Meet the New Boss at the EPA - the Same As the Old Boss at the EPA ... Sigh ...

On Getting Along

Just Say NO to Mountaintop Removal / Valley Fills in Papua, New Guinea

They Get It in California...

Remembering Laura - Memorial Fund Helps Her Passion Live On

Gifts That Give Twice - Just in Time for the Holidays!



Web Extra Articles Below
(not in printed newsletter)

Six Million and One Reasons Why West Virginia Needs Clean Elections

Coal-bed methane attracts Halliburton to West Virginia

Public deserves a real
solution to slurry spills

For viewing the PDF version


Brushy Fork Impoundment Victory

Massey Coal Ordered to
Monitor for Mercury, Other Toxics

by Vivian Stockman

For years, Coal River Mountain Watch, the United Mine Workers of America and OVEC have challenged the WV Department of Environmental Protection and Marfork Coal Co. (a Massey Energy subsidiary) to take seriously citizen concerns about the states largest coal sludge impoundment, Brushy Fork.

This gargantuan lake o toxic goo, which looms over folks living near Whitesville and is built over underground mines, was engineered by the same people who worked on the failed Martin County Coal Co. (another Massey subsidiary) impoundment the one that, in October 2000, spewed over 306 million gallons of sludge into about 100 miles of waterways along the Kentucky-West Virginia border.

Often, when both Marfork and DEP have tried to ignore our Brushy Fork concerns, OVEC and Coal River Mountain Watch have taken our grievances to the Surface Mine Board.

As a result of one of our appeals to the board, Massey was forced to reveal that there is mercury in the impoundment.

The board ordered Massey to monitor groundwater near the Brushy Fork site for the toxic heavy metals mercury, lead, arsenic, cadmium, cobalt, and copper (all of which are present in coal) an action that, as far as we know, is unprecedented and could be extended to any of the other 135 permitted coal waste slurry impoundments in the state.

Surprise, surprise. Massey didnt like our victory and appealed the boards ruling. Apparently, Massey didnt want to pay for monitoring the groundwater they say it will cost $18,000 a year. Poor guys only rake in over $200 million a year from that one subsidiary alone. They prefer to have about 7 BILLION gallons of sludge stored in the headwaters of the Coal River without having to know what is happening to the groundwater.

In September, we appeared in Raleigh County Circuit Court to defend our victory.

Knowing about the mercury, the DEP decided to not fight against us (like it did during our 2001 appeal), but instead filed a brief supporting the boards ruling requiring the groundwater monitoring! The judge agreed with OVEC, CRMW and DEP that Marfork should indeed test the groundwater for mercury and other toxic heavy metals.

This is the first time that any coal company has been required to conduct heavy metal monitoring in the groundwater down-gradient from any impoundment.

Many thanks to attorney Mary Ann Maul and hydrogeologist Rick Eades for their great work on this case, which may have implications far beyond this one impoundment!


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