West Virginia Selenium Settlement Could Have Ramifications for Kentucky

by Erica Peterson on October 3, 2011

Environmental groups in West Virginia have reached a settlement with a coal company over water pollution near mine sites. The decision could affect a similar case in Kentucky.

Earlier this year, local environmental groups and the Sierra Club filed a lawsuit against St. Louis-based Arch Coal over selenium pollution at six West Virginia mines.

Selenium is a naturally-occurring element, but when it’s released during coal mining it has been shown to cause deformities and reproductive problems in aquatic life. The settlement in West Virginia will require Arch Coal to install technology to remove the selenium, as well at pay $2 million up front.

Lexington-based Sierra Club volunteer Lane Boldman says the case could affect current Sierra Club projects in Kentucky.

“I think it’s great that the courts are recognizing that selenium pollution is a problem. We have equal reason to be concerned in Kentucky because we have just as many mines,” she said.

The Sierra Club recently filed a lawsuit over selenium pollution at International Coal Group’s Thunder Ridge Mine in Hazard.

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