Alpha Natural Resources Cited for 8th and 9th Violations at Mountaintop Removal Site on Coal River Mountain

Sep 14, 2017

Alpha Natural Resources subsidiary Republic Energy has received its eighth and ninth notices of violation at its 802-acre Middle Ridge mountaintop removal permit on Coal River Mountain. West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection inspector Matthew Dillon issued the violations on September 8. Violation 8 is the third "method of operations" violation since August 23, 2016, and is for failure to comply with the planned reclamation schedule. Dillon ordered the company to "cease any new disturbance" until they come into compliance with the reclamation plan. Violation 9 is for "permit conditions," the second such violation since June 9, 2017. The remaining four violations are for failure to properly maintain sediment control ditches. Because of this pattern of violation, the WVDEP ordered Alpha to show cause why the permit should not be terminated or revoked. Alpha has requested a hearing in the case, and Coal River Mountain Watch has requested to intervene.

Alpha subsidiaries operate over ten square miles of active, approved or pending mountaintop removal sites and coal waste slurry impoundments on Coal River Mountain. Local citizens group Coal River Mountain Watch has opposed the operations because of the documented public health impacts of mountaintop removal, including significantly elevated rates of cancer, heart disease, birth defects and other deadly illnesses. Mountaintop removal also causes long-term pollution of mountain streams and the loss of access to the mountain for traditional activities including hiking, hunting, and gathering ginseng, berries, mushrooms, ramps and other forest resources. Increased runoff from the deforested sites and altered topography can also contribute to flooding.