Meeting Three: Is Coal Slurry Poisoning Well Water?
December 10, 2006
Photos by Vivian Stockman
here to read about the first
here to read about the second.)
Coal Industry a No Show
The West Virginia Coal Association apparently had been notified on
Friday that the meeting would be Sunday, the same as the rest of us.
Despite the lack of advance warning,
Sludge Safety Project supporters turned out in force for the 5:30
p.m. meeting, again filling the room. But the Coal Association refused
to appear. Yes, they snubbed the Senators and Delegates who had set up
this meeting so the Joint Interim Subcommittee B could hear from the
industry on its views on coal slurry injection and groundwater
contamination. The Industry said it will speak in January. Well, all
righty then. Coal industry does want it wants.
The only person to address the committee was DEP chief Stephanie
Timmermeyer. She echoed the coal industry's statements to the
press--that the only troublesome area is around Rawl, WV. (We have
folks around Wharncliffe in Mingo County and also in Preston County who
have similar water problems and,
injection maps, we suspect the problems are far more widespread than
DEP is saying.) Timmermeyer said the Rawl Sales Processing plant was
injecting underground before DEP began "controlling" underground
injections through the permitting process. That facility would never
have been permitted for underground injection, and has no underground
injection permit now. Locals marvel that the coal sludge impoundment
associated with the prep plant seems to stay the same size year after
year. Where is that slurry the plant generates going?
Timmermeyer did allude to the fact that DEP is hearing the people on
this. DEP has met with the Office of Surface Mining recently to discuss
slurry. DEP can do its own testing of what is in this stuff, she
said. Sludge Safety Project would like to see an independent lab do the
sampling and analysis. We'd like studies of whether or not slurry is
moving from where it is injected and on into underground aquifers. We
want to know the health effects of slurry on people whose water is
contaminated. Thee are the studies we are asking the legislature to
authorize. We'd also like a moratorium on coal slurry injection permits
until the studies are complete. The results of the studies could dictate
next steps. If slurry is harming people, and there are alternatives, why
not employ those alternatives?--
Timmermeyer said she would ask for an
emergency rule change to alleviate leaking slurry pipelines laying on
the ground (see article in sidebar).
|Another full room for the Joint Subcommittee
B's latest hearing on coal slurry injection.
|After the hearing, Ira Evans, from Lick Creek
in Mingo County, shows a couple of legislators samples of his
family's well water.
|Ernie Brown, back to camera, speaks with
legislators about his black well water.