By Kyleigh Nevis
Legal action has been taken against Massey Energy for violating the Clean Water Act and surface mining laws a thousand times over.
Earthjustice, a nonprofit law firm, is representing four conservation groups in a lawsuit that would hold five subsidiary companies of Massey accountable for dumping toxic waste from 16 mines into the waterways.
The Sierra Club, Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, Coal River Mountain Watch and West Virginia Highlands Conservancy cite the presence of harmful pollutants as evidence of Massey’s hazardous mining operations.
Examples of contaminated water from mine activity are highlighted in the film On Coal River and the impact of water contamination on the environment and health has been widely documented. The plaintiff’s evidence include findings that high aluminum levels from dumping have been proven to be toxic to aquatic life and have been linked to degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
Additionally, the daily permit violations in the mines from April 2008 to December 2009 added up to nearly 3,300. The conservationists contend that these violations are ongoing.
According to Environment News Service: “The groups are seeking fines against the Massey subsidiaries of up to $32,500 per day for each violation that occurred on or before January 12, 2009, and $37,500 per day for each violation that occurred thereafter – penalties that could rise into the millions of dollars.”