We are outraged at approval of Ison Rock Ridge surface coal mine permit
Despite pressure from federal agencies and outcry from the local community, the Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy has approved the highly controversial Ison Rock Ridge surface coal mine permit surrounding the town of Appalachia. The permit in question would destroy over 1200 acres of land immediately above the town of Appalachia, and would severely impact the communities of Inman, Andover, Derby, Callahan Avenue and Ridge Street in the town of Appalachia. The Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards, a community group based in Wise County, has been fighting this permit since 2007.
“This is another permit being railroaded by regulatory agencies without regard to the mass public outcry,” said Jane Branham, Vice-President of SAMS. “We have significant concerns about the impact of this permit on our local waterways, our community and quality of life for those of us who live in the shadow of this permit.”
Even though the Environmental Protection Agency has signaled increased action to reduce water pollution from surface mines, state agencies, coal corporations and even local representatives are pushing ahead with plans for new surface mine permits that would cause unprecedented water pollution. Growing concerns from the medical, scientific and regulatory communities focus on the impact of mine waste on drinking and recreational water, and on the cumulative impact on already impaired streams.
In a ruling issued by the Environmental Protection Agency on April 1, 2010, the agency announced that effects from surface mine permits would be restricted based on conductivity levels of streams impacted by upstream surface mining. According to figures from the Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy, conductivity readings on the streams immediately downstream from the Ison Rock Ridge permit are already heavily impacted by surface mining. The DMME’s records show conductivity readings at the two receiving streams, Looney Creek and Callahan Creek, are 59% higher than the EPA’s new rules require. They suggest streams and watersheds severely impacted by heavy metals, sediment, and other toxic effects of mining waste being dumped in headwater streams.
“This is good example of them not caring about the people and taking care of the people,” said Sam Broach, President of SAMS. “They’re not looking out for the safety of the people and environment, and they’re going to blast this mountain despite the federal rules. Basically, we’re going to keep up the fight. We’re not quitting here. They only care about the bottom dollar, and we care about the future of our community.”
SAMS opposes the surface mine permit at Ison Rock Ridge for the danger it poses to nearby communities Appalachia, Inman, Derby and Andover. SAMS is concerned about the impacts of mining activity on nearby streams that have already exceeded acceptable levels of pollution from mine discharge, and believes this permit to be a violation of the Clean Water Act.