Federal lawsuit alleges Greene Co. coal miner pollutes creeks
A Washington County-based citizens group said Monday that it stepped in to enforce federal clean water laws against a Greene County coal operation because state mining regulators failed to do so.
The Center for Coalfield Justice in Washington claims in a federal lawsuit that Emerald Coal Resources LP of Waynesburg exceeded state and federal water pollution limits at least 400 times in the past five years.
Joanne Kilgour, legal director for the group, said the state Department of Environmental Protection all but ignored the violations.
“They could have taken an enforcement action,” she said. “They have all the information we have about the violations.”
DEP spokesman John Poister declined comment.
Emerald Coal Resources, a subsidiary of Alpha Natural Resources Inc. of Bristol, Va., operates a longwall mine and coal preparation plant in Franklin Township.
The center's lawsuit claims the mining operation pollutes several tributaries of Whiteley and the South Fork of Tenmile Creek, which feed into the Monongahela River. The center wants an injunction to block the company from operating unless it could stay within pollution limits set in its permits.
Tom Pile, a company spokesman, said Emerald Coal Resources is working to fix the problem.
“We're looking at an active treatment system to reduce salt concentrations,” he said. “We'll be pilot-testing different technologies in 2013, and design of the system will begin as well.”
Federal law required the group to file a notice with the company, the DEP and the Environmental Protection Agency 60 days before filing the lawsuit.
Kilgour said the group filed those notices and didn't hear from the agencies or the company about a planned fix for the pollution.
“If they have those plans in place, that's not something we have information about,” she said.
The group filed the lawsuit on Monday at the request of residents who are concerned about the pollution, she said.
Veronica Coptis, 25, of Carmichaels said she became reluctant to fish in Tenmile Creek because of the pollution.
“You should be able to go to your local stream and catch the trout without having to worry about what pollutants you're feeding your family,” she said.
Brian Bowling is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-325-4301 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Clues to Chief Justice John Roberts’ thinking on new ObamaCare case
- Pirates enter Plan B with Martin off market
- D.C. charges woman over armed protest
- For Steelers, a fight to finish for playoff berth
- Starkey: No explaining Steelers, AFC North
- Islanders outwork Penguins to sweep back-to-back meetings
- Pitt beats Syracuse, snaps 3-game losing streak
- For Pitt men’s basketball team, trouble in paradise
- Shooting victims live with bullets to survive, thrive
- Leak of grand jury information could cost Attorney General Kane
- Freezing rain hits Western Pennsylvania, many accidents reported