Category: Environment

Funding to Make Abandoned Coal Mines Safer Could Disappear Soon

U.S. District Judge Abdul Kallon eventually will determine how Drummond Co. must keep its Maxine Mine from polluting the Locust Fork with acid mine drainage. Regardless of the method used, the cost almost certainly will run into the millions of dollars.

The size and complexity of the more than six-decade-old site would make stopping or treating pollution “very, very challenging” regardless of the method used, according to Dustin Morin, the inspector for the Alabama Department of Labor’s Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation Program.

The program administers the federal AML program and addresses the most dangerous problems resulting from coal mining that occurred before passage of the U.S. Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977. Read more.

Judge in Historic Ruling Says Drummond Violating Clean Water Act Because of Ongoing Discharge From Closed Mine

The River ‘Flows Through My Veins:’ Voices From the Locust Fork Tributary of the Black Warrior River

The River ‘Flows Through My Veins:’ Voices From the Locust Fork Tributary of the Black Warrior River

People who live on the Locust Fork near the Maxine mine say runoff from that long-closed site has ruined their boating and fishing, endangered their livelihoods and damaged their enjoyment of their homes.

Its for those people and many others who visit the river that the mine site needs to be cleaned up, said Black Warrior Riverkeeper staff attorney Eva Dillard.

“People live along the Locust Fork, they know about this site and worry about it every time they boat or fish on the river. They have to think about what that site generates and puts into the river, how it might affect their lives and their property values.”

In court documents, several people living along or near the Locust Fork registered objections to the pollution of the river from Maxine Mine. Here are some of their comments. Read more.

Judge in Historic Ruling Says Drummond Violating Clean Water Act Because of Ongoing Discharge From Closed Mine

Funding to Make Abandoned Coal Mines Safer Could Disappear Soon

Water Water Everywhere … Unless It Hasn’t Rained Lately: Legislators Debate Bill to Govern Water Use During Droughts

River advocacy groups are promoting passage of a bill that would provide clear standards in times of drought for the state to step in to allocate use of water for agriculture, recreation, drinking and other uses.

The bill, HB 476, also would set up a system of “conservation credits” for agricultural and other large water users who institute water-saving measures before periods of drought.

Under the bill, when water flow in a river or stream falls below predetermined, science-based levels, state agencies could more quickly impose limits on usage to protect the health of the waterway. That would impact the quality of water for drinking, recreation and aquatic life, advocates say.

Meanwhile, farmers are concerned that the bill could let the state cut back on their water use just when they need it most.
The bill is awaiting action in a committee. Read more.

Hank Black Inducted Into UA Student Media’s Wall of Fame for His Service in Journalism

BirminghamWatch’s Hank Black was inducted into the Wall of Fame for the University of Alabama’s Office of Student Media during an event April 26.

Black, who covers the environment for BW, was honored for his role as editor in chief of the Crimson White during one of the most turbulent years in the university’s history. Black was editor in 1963, when Vivian Malone and James Hood became the first two black students to successfully enroll at UA, following Gov. George Wallace’s infamous “Stand in the Schoolhouse Door.” Read more.

After 14 Years, Dovertown Community Is Weary, but Still Fighting Strip Mining

For 14 years, residents of the Walker County community of Dovertown, near Cordova, have lived under a cloud. Coal companies have been wanting to strip-mine a nearby area along the Black Warrior River’s Locust Fork tributary.

The threat to the 200 people who live there is existential, they believe, as they’ve seen other small towns nearly fade away once the ground around them was shoveled away to get at a seam of coal.

At issue is whether the Alabama Surface Mining Commission will issue a new five-year permit to Mays Mining Inc. for the No. 5 Mine. Some of the people of Dovertown plan to speak in opposition at an informal public conference called by the commission for Wednesday, April 17. Read more.

After Recent CASAC Meeting, Former Chairman Says, “If I Were Still Working for EPA, I Would Resign”

The recent public hearing of a top air pollution advisory committee exposed faults so grave that a former chair of the group wrote an article in the Washington Post on Tuesday that was headlined, “If I Were Still Working At the EPA, I Would Resign.”

Jefferson County air pollution engineer Corey Masuca, a member of the committee, wouldn’t go that far, but on Thursday he told BirminghamWatch that he thought the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee did need greater support from the Environmental Protection Agency to properly evaluate whether current pollution standards are adequate to protect public health. Read more.

Officials Investigate Fish Kill Along Black Warrior River


State officials are looking into a fish kill that happened near Alabama Power’s Plant Gorgas in Walker County. The coal-fired plant sits along a tributary of the Black Warrior River. Riverkeeper Nelson Brooke says he first heard about the incident Friday morning from a local fisherman. Brooke says he was not allowed to access the fenced area of the creek near the power plant, but counted at least 100 dead fish downstream. Read more.