October 29, 2012

CCJ Announces Legal Action to Stop Years of Illegal Discharges from Emerald Mine

The Center for Coalfield Justice served legal notice today on a large coal mine operation that has been illegally discharging pollutants into streams across Greene County, Pennsylvania. Alpha Natural Resources and Emerald Coal Resources, the operators of the Emerald Mine #1 longwall mine in Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, were notified that the Center for Coalfield Justice (CCJ) intends to sue for hundreds of violations of the federal Clean Water Act over the past five years. Both the federal Environmental Protection Agency and Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection were also notified of the legal action.

“For years the public has paid the price of coal’s dirty pollution into our rivers and streams,” said Patrick Grenter, Executive Director of the Center for Coalfield Justice. “We cannot rely on the state or EPA to act. Emerald has been illegally violating the terms of their permits for years without being held accountable. These ongoing violations must come to a stop.”

The discharges listed in this notice include high levels of heavy metals, which have a detrimental effect on human health and the environment, including aquatic life such as fish and birds. “These ongoing and systemic violations are a glaring testament to DEP’s inability or unwillingness to enforce the law against polluters who are hurting human health and the environment,” said Joanne Kilgour, Legal Director of CCJ.

The legal notice being given today is the first step in what is referred to as a citizen suit under the federal Clean Water Act. When government agencies fail to address violations of the Clean Water Act this law allows any adversely affected citizen to sue for enforcement of the law. Through this letter, CCJ is providing the legally required “Notice of Intent,” informing all parties of the ongoing Clean Water Act violations at issue.

The notice letter can be downloaded at http://coalfieldjustice.org/wp-content/uploads/Notice-of-Intent.pdf.

The Center for Coalfield Justice is a Pennsylvania-incorporated, not-for-profit organization with federal Internal Revenue Service §501(c)(3)-status recognition located at 184 S. Main Street, Washington, PA 15301. CCJ is a membership organization, with a mission to “improve policy and regulations for the oversight of fossil fuel extraction and use; to educate, empower and organize coalfield citizens; and to protect public and environmental health.” CCJ consists of individual members and is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors.

The Center for Coalfield Justice is being represented in this matter by the Earthrise Law Center of Lewis & Clark Law School. More information on Earthrise is available at http://law.lclark.edu/centers/earthrise/.