Nally & Hamilton latest coal company put on notice | Kentuckians For The Commonwealth

Nally & Hamilton latest coal company put on notice

Nally & Hamilton, the 4th largest coal producer of surface mined coal in Kentucky, was put on notice this afternoon that citizens plan to sue the company for 12,000 violations of the Clean Water Act.

The violations occurred from May 2008 through June 2010 and happened at more than a dozen of the company's mines in Bell, Harlan, Knott, Knox, Perry, Letcher and Leslie counties.

Can't Trust Big Coal

The allegations involve failing to perform accurate testing and monitoring of pollution dumped into Kentucky waterways. As in a similar ongoing case against ICG and Frasure Creek Mining, the results of many reports were copied exactly from one reporting period to the next and submitted as new reports.

"Before our collective vision for renewable energy resources, a renewed economy and a new politics that reflect a true democracy can be realized, the destruction of our air, water and land must be stopped," said KFTC Vice-Chair Suzanne Tallichet in a telephone press conference. "That collective vision explains why we are involved in legal actions against coal companies such as ICG, Frasure Creek and today, Nally & Hamilton."

She was joined by representatives from Kentucky Riverkeeper, Appalachian Voices, the Waterkeeper Alliance and the Natural Resources Defense Council.

"We don't know what's being dumped into our waters. We can't trust the reported data," said Pat Banks of Kentucky Riverkeeper. "Submitting a false report is an irresponsible and dangerous act – and so is failure to enforce" the law.

Also similar to the ICG / Frasure Creek case, the monitoring reports Nally and Hamilton did submit "were piled in dust-covered stacks and had not been reviewed for compliance in years," explained Donna Lisenby with Appalachian Voices. They reviewed those permits at the London office of the Kentucky Division of Mine Reclamation and Enforcement .

After filing the ICG and Frasure Creek claims last October, the groups "waited five months to see if [state officials] would make good on their promise to enforce the Clean Water Act," Lisenby continued. Instead, they've seen the opposite coming from the Beshear administration.

"If the government fails to prosecute then we are going to do it and do it vigorously," said Robert F. Kennedy Jr., representing the Waterkeeper Alliance. He called on the U.S. Attorney and the Kentucky Attorney General to prosecute the companies for fraud.

The speakers noted that water pollution carries a cost for human health. Tallichet pointed out that Kentucky's 5th Congressional district, represented by Rep. Hal Rogers and where all these violations occurred, ranks last in the nation in life expectancy, physical health and overall well-being.

Rogers recently used his position in Congress to attempt to block efforts by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to make coal companies comply with the Clean Water Act.

"Mining companies discharging toxic pollutants in our water is nothing new to our coalfield citizens,"  Tallichet said. "Too many of us have been getting sick and dying for too long. It's high time that mining companies are held accountable for their actions.

"At the same time, why not invest in wind and solar energy sources as neighboring states have? Energy efficiency is also a very important step in ensuring our energy future. A more vigorous state-wide weatherization program would create hundreds of jobs."

 A copy of the 60-day Notice of Intent to Sue letter sent to Nally and Hamilton is here.

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