Flaming wells, poisoned water show abuses of coal.

Saturday, August 20th, 2011 | Posted by Donna Lisenby | 1 Comment

I have just returned from another epic journey into the dark side of coal mining. If you, me or anyone else in America poisoned a neighbor’s drinking water we would be castigated and made a pariah at the very least and possibly jailed for attempted murder at the worst. But if you are a coal company operating in Appalachia you can get away with it. Very seldom will anyone in government or law enforcement make the coal industry stop harming human health. It is a tragedy that has been repeated time and time again across Appalachia. Here is the latest chapter:

[ Read the full story ]
[ Watch a video report by WKYT ]

Breaking News: Kentucky refuses to post the full record against ICG and Frasure Creek

Monday, January 3rd, 2011 | Posted by Donna Lisenby | 2 Comments

On Dec 17, 2010, Judge Shepherd ordered the Kentucky Energy & Environment Cabinet to post the proposed consent judgments with ICG and Frasure Creek to its website and provide for a 30 day public comment period. When the Appalachia Water Watch crew went to the state’s website to see if they followed the Judge’s order we found that they did not post all the documents incorporated by reference into the consent judgments. Because the public needs access to the whole record so that they can fully comment on the proposed Consent Judgments, we sent a letter to Judge Shepherd and asked him to clarify his order and require that the full Complaints and Exhibits be posted on the cabinet’s website.

The Energy and Environment Cabinet objected and complained to the judge that our request was “unreasonable” and “unduly burdensome” because they would have to post an additional 400 pages of material. While we wait to see if the Judge will clarify the order and make the state provide the full record for public comment, we thought we would show the Energy and Environment Cabinet how easy it is to post everything to a website. We didn’t find it unduly burdensome to provide the full record of Clean Water Act violations made by ICG and Frasure Creek. For your viewing and downloading pleasure here is the:

I guess the larger question is why doesn’t the Energy and Environment Cabinet want the public to see the full record? Perhaps a recent editorial in the Lexington Herald Leader newspaper explains why the Cabinet is so embarrassed:

“The environmental groups uncovered a massive failure by the industry to file accurate water discharge monitoring reports. They filed an intent to sue which triggered the investigation by the state’s Energy and Environment Cabinet. Also revealed was the cabinet’s failure to oversee a credible water monitoring program by the coal industry.”

Persons wishing to comment upon or object to either or both Consent Judgments are invited to submit comments electronically to the Cabinet at water@ky.gov or by U.S. mail to the Franklin Circuit Court, Division I, 669 Chamberlin Ave., Frankfort, KY 40601or to the cabinet at Division of Water, Attn: Public Information Officer, 200 Fair Oaks, 4th Floor, Frankfort, KY 40601.

Breaking News: Kentucky Filed Legal Action Against the ICG and Frasure Creek coal companies today

Friday, December 3rd, 2010 | Posted by Donna Lisenby | 2 Comments

Due to violations of the Clean Water Act by ICG and Frasure Creek Mining companies, discovered and made public by Appalachian Voices and our partners in October, the state of Kentucky today filed its own legal action against the two companies.

Kentucky charged ICG with 1,245 violations at 64 coal mining operations in 8 counties and Frasure Creek with 1,520 violations at 39 coal mining operations in six counties. The state levied a $350,000 fine against ICG and a $310,000 fine against Frasure Creek. The state cited the coal companies for:

· Failure to maintain required records
· Improper operation and maintenance,
· Failure to comply with effluent limitations contained in the KPDES permit
· Improper sample collection
· Failure to utilize approved test procedures, and
· Failure to comply with the terms of the permit.
· Failure to submit monitoring results with an authorized signature
· Failure to utilize approved test procedures,
· Contributing to pollution of the waters of the Commonwealth
· Degrading the waters of the Commonwealth.

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Great Film on the TVA Coal Ash Spill Disaster Two Years Later

Monday, November 8th, 2010 | Posted by Donna Lisenby | 1 Comment

In September, 2010 I traveled back to Harriman, Tennessee to meet the Blue Planet Expedition crew and our research partners at the Tennessee Aquarium Conservation Institute to tell the story of the TVA coal ash spill disaster two and half years after it happened. We spent a long day on the Emory River electroshocking fish and conducting interviews in the shadow of the Kingston coal fired power plant. The Expedition Blue Planet crew also traveled to the Savannah River Site D area in South Carolina to capture the impact of coal ash on amphibians. The film uses the TVA coal ash disaster as a lens through which to see the true cost of dirty coal on water, communities and our planet. Here is the remarkable and outstanding short film that resulted:

Great job Alexandra Cousteau, Ian Kellett, Anne Casselman, Ali Sanderson, Christoph Schwaiger, Michael Duff, Jonnie Morris, Oscar Durand, Sean Solowiej and the whole rest of the Blue Planet Expedition crew. This is the best film yet on the Kingston coal ash spill disaster.

Busting Big Coal-Legal Action Initiated Today

Thursday, October 7th, 2010 | Posted by Donna Lisenby | 2 Comments

The WaterWatch team at Appalachian Voices has teamed up with organizations and legal groups to launch legal action against three coal mining companies for violations of the Clean Water Act.

Unbelievable in this day and age, I thought, when my assistant, Eric Chance, and I researched discharge monitoring reports from Kentucky and discovered potential instances of falsified information from three coal companies working in that state.

As a 13 year veteran Waterkeeper I’ve seen hundreds of ways polluters violate the Clean Water Act, but I had never seen this. With a sick feeling in my stomach, I thought this must be an anomaly or a mistake, and that no one would violate the clean water act this blatantly.

On a mission to find the truth, we looked over hundreds of documents and eventually found and total of over 20,000 instances where the coal companies either falsified the required monitoring data, exceeded permit pollution limits or failed to submit required test data. If fined the maximum allowable by the Clean Water Act, these violations could result in fines over $740 million.

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