Settlement forces W.Va. coal mine to reduce pollution

Charleston, WV — The West Virginia Highlands Conservancy, Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition (OVEC), Appalachian Voices, and the Sierra Club today filed a settlement with Bluestone Coal Company that will hold the company responsible for releasing illegal levels of toxic selenium pollution into the Tug River from its Red Fox coal mine located in McDowell County, West Virginia.


Pablo Willis, Sierra Club,

Erin Savage, Appalachian Voices,

The settlement compels Bluestone to take actions to come into compliance with selenium limits in its Clean Water Act permit and pay $270,000 to the West Virginia Land Trust. The land trust will use the money to fund land acquisition along with a newly proposed Tug Fork River Trail, which will provide local residents with new economic and recreational opportunities as well as protect water quality.

The citizen groups filed the suit last summer in federal court, asserting the mine’s discharges of selenium violate the Clean Water Act and Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act. Even after Bluestone attempted to delay proceedings and have its permits amended to incorporate the more moderate fish tissue-based pollution limits, the groups successfully demonstrated that the company continued to violate its permits.

“Across Appalachia, countless coal mines, like Bluestone’s Red Fox mine, release hazardous levels of pollutants into waterways that damage our streams and cause significant harm to our communities. This proposed settlement will hold the company to account for its selenium pollution and helps fund an environmental project that benefits the Tug River and provides the surrounding community with a new recreational space and the potential for new economic opportunities,” Karan Ireland, West Virginia Sierra Club’s Senior Campaign Representative.

“Coal companies continually disregard laws written to protect their workers, human health and the environment. This settlement means one company will have to clean up its act in a way that could provide a literal and figurative path toward positive change for surrounding communities,” said Vivian Stockman, Executive Director of the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition.

“Coal companies have profited off McDowell County’s coal for decades, while leaving local communities behind to deal with polluted water. This win will help ensure Bluestone is held responsible for its pollution, and help local communities move toward a healthier, more prosperous future,” said Erin Savage, Central Appalachian Senior Program Manager for Appalachian Voices.


Appalachian Voices is a leading nonprofit advocate for a healthy environment and just economy in the Appalachian region, and a driving force in America’s shift from fossil fuels to a clean energy future.