The Front Porch Blog, with Updates from AppalachiaThe Front Porch Blog, with Updates from Appalachia


Vulcan’s Boone Quarry Pollution Problem

Thursday, April 21st, 2011 | Posted by Eric Chance | 1 Comment

Last night I was driving home, and noticed that Laurel Fork (along Hwy 105, just outside of Boone) was running a grayish color. I tracked down the source of the gray water, and it turned out to be the discharge from the Vulcan Boone Quarry (Just south of Boone on 105). Here is a video and some pictures of what I found.

A Gray-Brown Plume of water enters Laurel Fork from the Vulcan Boone Quarry. At the top of the photo you can see clear water in the Laurel Fork and then gray-brown water entering the creek from the right.

Gray-Brown Plume in Laurel Fork, created by Vulcan Boone Quarry

Discharge Pipe

Discharge Pipe

The Vulcan Boone Quarry has had repeated problems in the past with discharging milky white and gray water and they got in trouble for it before. As a result they have some fancy monitoring equipment to watch their discharge. The question remains, why is this still going on if they have they monitor this water, and if they have gotten in trouble for this before?

Monitoring Equipment and Pollution

Monitoring Equipment and Pollution

Check back for updates on what Vulcan and the North Carolina Division of Water Quality are going to do about this.

Vulcans Boone Quarry

Vulcan's Boone Quarry

Great New Post about our Fight against Big Coal in Kentucky

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011 | Posted by Eric Chance | No Comments

We would like to thank Daily Kos and DWG for writing an awesome article about our ongoing legal battle with 3 coal companies and the state regulatory agency in Kentucky. Check out the article here.

Another Coal Company on the Run

Thursday, March 10th, 2011 | Posted by Eric Chance | No Comments

Yesterday we announced our intent to sue Nally and Hamilton Enterprises for more than 12,000 violations of the clean water act at more than a dozen of its strip mines in Eastern Kentucky. Click here for more information on that action.

Later in the day we noticed something odd about their website, it was gone. In its place was a slideshow of mostly green reclamation sites and by this morning even that was gone. Click here to see if they have anything on their site now. Luckily we acted quickly and were able to capture their old website, so we thought we would share it here. However, one big question still remains, why are they trying to hide? Any ideas? We look forward to your comments.

Click to enlarge images, then click again to make them full size:

Home Page




Photo Gallery

There was one more page, under the History tab but this page just repeated the text on the homepage, so just go to the homepage.

See James Bruggers’ article on this amazing disappearing website.

Another Kentucky Coal Company Falsifies Water Monitoring Data

Wednesday, March 9th, 2011 | Posted by Eric Chance | 1 Comment

Working in coalition with national and state-wide environmental and social justice groups, we are once again seeking justice for clean water in Appalachia.

At 2pm today, Appalachian Voices and partners announced an intent to sue yet another coal company in Kentucky for violations of the Clean Water Act – this time with a single outfit wracking up more than 12,000 violations.

The company named in this newest suit is Nally & Hamilton, a mining operation based in Bardstown, KY and is one of the largest mining companies in eastern Kentucky.

Nally & Hamilton is not known for being a good neighbor to local residents. In one instance, ex-coal miner Elmer Lloyd’s fish pond in Cumberland, Ky was completely destroyed by toxins, sediment, and mud flowing from a Nally & Hamilton owned strip mine above his home.

The notice against Nally and Hamilton alleges that the company may have filed false, potentially fraudulent, water monitoring reports with the state over the past three years, including cutting and pasting previous data in later reports in lieu of submitting actual data for each month. The suit also claims that the company repeatedly omitted legally-required data from its reports.

Appalachian Voices and its partners previously sued two other coal companies late last year in a legal case that has had as many twists and tangles as an errant patch of kudzu. That case currently has a court date set of June 14.

Appalachian Voices and partners, including Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, the Kentucky Riverkeeper, the Waterkeeper Alliance, teamed up with lawyers from Natural Resources Defense Council on this case.

Nally & Hamilton and the state government have 60 days to respond to the allegations.

Boone Limits Coal Tar Sealants- Fish and River Lovers Celebrate

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011 | Posted by Eric Chance | No Comments

Last night (February 15) the Boone Town Council passed strict new regulations aimed to limit the impacts of coal tar based asphalt sealants.

Coal tar based asphalt sealants are terrible for the environment and have serious human health effects because they are a major source of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). If you have ever stood in a parking lot that is really black, that is coal tar asphalt sealant, and if it smelled like tar or weird chemicals, those are the PAHs. There is really no reason to use this type of sealant, because asphalt based sealants are the same price and are far less toxic.

Although, the regulations do not outright ban the use of coal tar sealants, they do make it much more difficult. The regulations set up a permitting process, for anyone wishing to apply a pavement sealant. There will be a minimal fee for non coal tar based sealants, and a much higher fee for coal tar sealants. The permitting process is designed to allow for education on pavement sealants, and to ensure that sealants are applied in a safe manner (like when there is no chance of rain). The new permitting process will be implemented April 1, to allow for time to develop education materials and finalize the fee structure.

These new regulations are in response to the Hodges Creek fish kill. This past summer the BB&T on Highway 105 in Boone applied coal tar based asphalt sealant to their parking lot in the rain. The sealant washed off into Hodges Creek, killing all life in the creek until its confluence with Boone Creek, near the mall, 1.5 miles downstream. Shea Tuberty of Appalachian State told the town council that he had done sampling in Hodges Creek in January, little life has returned to the Creek, six months after the spill.

Thanks to everyone who came out to the town council to stand up for clean streams!

Great News for Clean Water in Kentucky

Friday, February 11th, 2011 | Posted by Eric Chance | No Comments

In a precedent setting move today, Judge Phillip Shepherd granted limited intervention rights to Appalachian Voices, KFTC, the Kentucky Riverkeeper and Waterkeeper Alliance in the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet’s Case against International Coal Group (ICG) and Frasure Creek Mining.


Here is the full press release:


Judge grants environmental groups the right to
intervene in Kentucky Clean Water Act case

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
Donna Lisenby…. 704-277-6055….
Sandra Diaz….407-739-6465….
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

A Kentucky judge today granted environmental groups a motion to intervene in a legal case against two coal companies in violation of the Clean Water Act.

State Court Judge Phillip Shepherd set a precedent by issuing an order granting four environmental groups’ motion to intervene in a lawsuit between the State Energy and Environment Cabinet and defendants, ICG and Frasure Creek Mining, the two largest coal companies in Kentucky. The ruling marks the first time a third party intervention has been allowed in a state proceeding between a potential Clean Water Act violator and a state agency in Kentucky.

The plaintiffs in the case include Appalachian Voices, Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, Kentucky Riverkeeper and Waterkeeper Alliance as well as four individual citizens.

Saying it would be “an abuse of discretion to deny those citizens and environmental groups the right to participate in this action,” Judge Shepherd ordered that the groups be allowed to fully participate in the legal proceedings leading up to a June 14th hearing on whether the proposed settlement between the Cabinet and the coal companies is “fair, adequate, and reasonable, as well as consistent with the public interest.”

“We look forward to working cooperatively with the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet to execute the Judge’s orders to conduct additional inquiry and get to the bottom of this case,” said Donna Lisenby, Director of Water Programs for Appalachian Voices.

The case was brought against the coal companies by the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet in December, in response to a 60-day Notice of Intent to Sue filed by the environmental groups in October 2010. The original notice alleged 20,000 violations of the Clean Water Act, with potential fines of $740 million for the companies. The Cabinet’s proposed settlement attempted to fine the coal companies a combined total of only $660,000.

The environmental groups moved to intervene in the proposed settlement between the state and the coal companies, providing evidence that the state’s plan did not sufficiently address the alleged violations or deter future violations. The judge ordered the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet to allow public comments on the case, eventually receiving many letters from citizens across the state.

Judge Phillips summed up the key reasons for granting the intervention in his order, stating “The Cabinet, by its own admission, has ignored these admitted violations for years. The citizens who brought these violations to light through their own efforts have the legal right to be heard when the Cabinet seeks judicial approval of a resolution of the environmental violations that were exposed through the efforts of these citizens. In these circumstances, it would be an abuse of discretion to deny those citizens and environmental groups the right to participate in this action, and to test whether the proposed consent decree is “fair, adequate, and reasonable, as well as consistent with the public interest.”

“We are very pleased with the decision, which will allow us to conduct depositions and other discovery,” said Peter Harrison, a third year law student with the Pace Environmental Litigation Clinic who argued on behalf of the environmental organizations and citizens in court last month. “By allowing our intervention, the judge has ensured that the people’s interest in clean, healthy waters will be adequately represented as we move forward.”

“Enforcement of clean water laws, enacted to protect the public from harmful pollution, was intended to be a transparent process,” said Attorney Mary Cromer of the Appalachian Citizens’ Law Center and counsel for the plantiffs. “By allowing intervention, the Court has made sure that will be the case. This is a major victory for the citizens of Kentucky.”

Community members like Ted Withrow, a member of Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, were encouraged by the decision. “For over 100 years the people of Kentucky have been blocked by King Coal and the government they control, from redress of wrongs inflicted upon them,” said Withrow. “Judge Shepherd is to be commended for his brave action in upholding the rights of the people. He has put his finger on the scales of justice today and attempted to bring balance.”


For interviews and images, please contact
Visit for details.
For video from the court room in January, please see: Kentucky Legal Action Update

Come Out and Fight for Clean Water

Friday, February 4th, 2011 | Posted by Eric Chance | No Comments

Attention Boonies!

Come out this Monday night to support strong new regulations on coal tar based asphalt sealants, the source of the Hodges Creek fish kill last summer.

The Boone Town Council will be having a public hearing on Monday, February 7th at 7:00pm at the Boone Town Council Chambers (next to the police station on 321 and in front of K-mart). We need everyone to come out and speak in favor of a newly proposed ban on coal tar based asphalt sealants, in the town of Boone. If you don’t want to speak that’s ok too, just come out to show your support.

Here is the proposed new rule.

Help keep this from ever happening again:

Kentucky Legal Action Update

Monday, January 31st, 2011 | Posted by Eric Chance | No Comments

Last Thursday there was a hearing to decide if we would be allowed to intervene in the interest of clean water in a legal case between the state of Kentucky and ICG and Frasure Creek Mining. The Appalachian Water Watch team shot a short video in the court room prior to the start of the January 27th hearing. We provided a little background on the case and interviewed some of our most valued partners, people the Commonwealth of Kentucky calls “unwarranted burdens”. You can watch it here:

The case was brought about by our investigation that found 20,000 violations of the clean water act. The judge heard arguments from all parties and now we are just waiting to hear what he decides.

For a bit more information on the story check out these articles from:

The Huffington Post: Big Coal’s Watergate? Nation watches as Clean Water Act Scandal Rocks Kentucky Court Today

The Institute for Southern Studies: Showdown over King Coal’s Rule in Kentucky

The Daily Independent Court Hears Arguments in Coal Case

The Lexington Herald Leader: Judge Hears Arguments in Coal Case

Why Fight When You Can Hide?

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011 | Posted by Eric Chance | 3 Comments

Welcome to the biggest fight of 2011! In one corner, Appalachian Voices’ Water Watch team stands poised and ready to fight for clean water. In the other corner, Big Coal tries to defend their polluting ways. The next round of the showdown will begin on Thursday, January 27 at 1:30 pm in a Kentucky courtroom. Who will come out on top?

Read on to get the pre-match rundown. (more…)

Read More ...

EPA Hears Comments about Potential Coal Ash Regulation as Hazardous Waste

Thursday, October 28th, 2010 | Posted by Eric Chance | No Comments

Gloria Griffith from the Sierra Clubs Watauga Group tells the EPA why coal ash should be regulated as a Hazardous Waste

Gloria Griffith from the Sierra Club's Watauga Group tells the EPA why coal ash should be regulated as a Hazardous Waste

Yesterday in Knoxville, TN the EPA held a public hearing on whether or not to regulate coal ash as a hazardous waste.

Coal ash or coal combustion residuals (CCRs) are the stuff that is left over after coal is burned and constitutes one of the nation’s largest streams of waste. Coal ash contains many heavy metals and toxins such as lead, mercury, selenium, cadmium, barium and others. Currently it is largely unregulated and is mostly stored in giant unlined ponds that are hundreds of acres in size.

Coal ash was brought to the nation’s attention 2 years ago when in Kingston TN, when a TVA coal ash pond broke, spilling billions of gallons of coal ash into the Emory, Clinch and Tennessee Rivers, just a half hour drive from the Knoxville hearing. (more…)

Read More ...

Coal Ash Pond Failure in Wimington NC

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010 | Posted by Eric Chance | No Comments

Aerial Photo of Progress Energy’s Sutton Plant (Left) and its 135 Acre Ash Pond (Right)

Right here in North Carolina a coal ash pond at Progress Energy’s Sutton Plant near Wilmington was breached on Monday.

Monday’s heavy rains may have been a factor in the failure, but there is another wave of heavy rains coming to the region today and tomorrow that may cause even more problems.

for more information on the spill you can check out the Wilmington Star’s article here.

Cape Fear Riverkeeeper, Kemp Burdette is investigating the situation. We will post updates as they are available.

This comes spill at a time when the EPA is considering regulating coal ash as a hazardous waste, in the wake of the Kingston Tennessee Spill that released over 1 billion gallons of toxic coal ash into the Clinch, Emory and Tennessee Rivers two years ago.

Operation Medicine Cabinet-Drug Take Back Day Oct. 2

Monday, September 27th, 2010 | Posted by Eric Chance | No Comments

Do you have outdated or unused prescription drugs, over the counter medications, syringes or other medical supplies? Come drop them off at the sponsored take-back centers in Ashe and Watauga Counties on three different days this October. Any prescription or over the counter drugs will be accepted, no questions asked.

On Friday October 1 drugs will be collected at the Plemmons Student Union on the Appalachian State University campus from 10:00am to 2:00pm.

Across Watauga county drugs will be collected on Saturday October 2, from 10:00am to 2:00pm, in conjunction with Hazardous Household Waste Collection Day. Take-back locations will be available at the Foscoe Fire Department, and the three Food Lion stores in Watauga County: the Highway 321 store in Boone, the Highway 421 Deep Gap store, and the Blowing Rock store.

In Ashe County the collection will be held on October 16. Medications can be dropped from off from 10:00am to 2:00pm at the Jefferson Food Lion, the West Jefferson Life Store Bank at the Wal-Mart and at the former Northwest Foods in Warrensville.

Operation Medicine Cabinet has been a huge success in the high country and has continued to expand. The Operation Medicine Cabinet drug collection day in May collected over 188,000 pills and 20 gallons of liquid medication.

Drugs Collected at the May Operation Medicine Cabinet

For more information about the event please visit or to learn more about previous events visit the Watauga Riverkeeper Blog.



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