Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition
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August 2009
Contents

Floods ... Again
OVEC Organizer Wins International Recognition with Green Nobel
JOBS and Energy Answers for Our WV Mountain Communities
Picnic for Green JOBS
MTR Mining Equipment Taken Off Gauley Mountain For Now
Board Adds Conditions to Disputed Fayette County Mine Permit
Lets Make Sure the Transition to a Clean, Green Energy Future in WV is a Peaceful One
Calling All Potential New OVEC Board of Directors Members!
Congress Doesnt Always Want to Come CLEAN
The CLEAN Citizens Leading For Energy Action Now
American Clean Energy Security Act: Coal Rewarded
Good Gosh, We Could Have Used That Money to Jump Start the Clean Energy Future in America!
Slurry Lawsuit Settlers Frustrated With Wait for Money
Mountains Aided With First-Ever Fundraising Concert in North Carolina
Sludge Safety Project Legislative Session Wrap-Up
DEPs Sludge Study Results: Agency Still Dont Know Nuthin
OVEC Organizer Testifies at Senate MTR Hearing
Thanks for All the Volunteers Who Helped After the Floods
Fighting For Our Ancestors Resting Places
Lobbying for Green Jobs in DC
Growing Movement Demands Protection for Mountains, Climate, Humanity
Environmental Groups Ask EPA to Take Over WV Pollution Permitting
Byrds Eye View: Staffers Get Close-Up Views of Mountain Range Removal
A Good Win in A Critical Federal Court Case Against MTR
Judicial Bill Pulled by Governor
Supreme Court Case Makes WV A National Laughingstock
Eating For OVEC Keeps Raising $$$
Photovoice Participants Capture their Communities in Images
Photovoice Exhibitions Well Covered By Local and Statewide Media
You Dont Have to Go to Copenhagen to Make a Difference
Obama and Mountaintop Removal Mining: The Roller Coaster Ride
New CD Celebrates Coalfield Resistance to Mountaintop Removal
Blair Mountain and the National Register of Historic Places
Ashford Yesterday, Today and Maybe Tomorrow?
Come Home to West Virginia? Buyer Beware!
Louv-ley Day in Charleston
Who Are They Kidding?
Web Extras:
Open Letter to Governor Manchin about Blair Mountain
Matewan, West Virginia


For viewing the PDF version of the newsletter

 
Winds of Change Newsletter, August 2009     See sidebar for table of contents

DEPs Sludge Study Results: Agency Still Dont Know Nuthin

On June 17 (about two years behind schedule) Randy Huffman, Secretary of the WV Department of Environmental Protection, finally reported to the state Legislature on his agencys study of underground coal slurry injection.

He told lawmakers that 13 underground injection permits would continue to operate, but no new permits would be issued for now. He also told lawmakers that his agency still doesnt know whether underground injection of coal slurry is safe.

The Charleston Gazette reported, "Huffman acknowledged a lack of tough regulation of slurry injection and conceded that a study mandated by lawmakers did not get to the bottom of the issue." (Ed. Note: This study happened because of Sludge Safety Projects efforts!)

"We are glad the DEP has issued a moratorium on new sludge injections, but we still need the facts, so we can deal with the waste that is stored near homes and protect people from the current injections going on right now, and we need to make the temporary moratorium a permanent ban," said Maria Lambert, a member of the Sludge Safety Project, a citizens organization.

In his Coal Tattoo blog entry, "WVDEPs Dont ask, dont tell policy on coal slurry," Ken Ward Jr. noted that the DEP doesnt have enough information on what water quality was like before companies started underground injection to say for sure if the slurry negatively affected that water quality. He asks why the DEP didnt make coal operators supply that information, because the agency clearly

had the authority to do so. Ward writes:

" And whats more, the existing regulations show that WVDEP has this whole thing backwards. The state doesnt have to prove that slurry injection is damaging water in order to do something. Rather, the regs put the ball in the industrys court. CSR 38-2-15.5.e.2 provides that discharges into underground mine works are prohibited unless the operator demonstrates that such activities will not cause, result in, or contribute to a violation of water quality standards and effluent limitations both on or outside the permit area.

"So, if WVDEP found in this study that it doesnt have enough information to say if slurry is damaging water supplies, then how in the world could operators have made the showing required under that regulation?"

Ward also notes that the DEP study makes it clear that coal slurry is migrating into underground water at several points. This appears to contradict some of Huffmans statements to the Legislature.

Nonetheless the DEP reports say, "Migration of the constituents from the mine pool to the surrounding groundwater was difficult to determine due to a lack of background information prior to injection and appropriate monitoring of changes by the operator."

Now, the study moves to another agency; the Bureau for Public Health is paying West Virginia University $221,000 to determine by years end whether pumping coal slurry underground threatens human health.

The Sludge Safety Project will be working to make certain DEPs Dont Ask Dont Tell policy does not carry over to part two of the study.

 

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