The first selenium case brought in Kentucky

Working with the Appalachian Citizens’ Law Center, the Appalachian Center for the Economy & the Environment has brought the first selenium Clean Water Act lawsuit in Kentucky on behalf of the Sierra Club.

The federal lawsuit, brought against ICG Hazard’s Thunder Ridge mountaintop removal mine in Leslie County, Ky., cites the mine’s own discharge data to make the case that the mine has been violating selenium and conductivity standards

Kentucky has standards for selenium discharges to protect aquatic organisms from the toxic substance. The two limits are 20 micrograms per liter to protect organisms from immediate harm and 5 micrograms per liter to protect organisms from damage from cumulative exposure.

Based on ICG Hazard’s own data submitted to the Kentucky Department of Environmental Protection when the company applied to expand the Thunder Ridge mine, those limits have been exceeded on numerous occasions.

The suit also alleges that the mine pollutants are raising conductivity at sufficient levels in Lower Bad Creek and its tributaries to violate Kentucky’s water quality standards.

Conductivity is often associated with concentrations of four primary ions or ?salts?: calcium (Ca+), magnesium (Mg+), sulfate (SO42?), and bicarbonate (HCO3?). High conductivity can kill off entire aquatic invertebrate populations in some streams, which can have cascading effects on stream biology.

The lawsuit asks the federal court to declare ICG Hazard in violation of the Clean Water Act and the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act, an injunction against further violations and an order to install treatment facilities to bring its mining discharges under appropriate limits. The suit also asks for Clean Water Act penalties to be assessed.

Read the complaint?here.


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