CHARLESTON – A lawsuit over coal mine drainage into streams has been settled between three environmental groups and Pocahontas Land Corporation.
Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, West Virginia Highlands Conservancy and Sierra Club filed the notice of lodging of consent decree Dec. 2 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia.
The environmental groups claimed Pocahontas' former White Flame mountaintop-removal mine in Mingo County continues to discharge selenium, dissolved solids, sulfates and other pollutants into tributaries of the Tug Fork River.
Pocahontas has agreed to test the water and apply for a Clean Water Act permit from the state to address the issues, according to the consent decree.
Pocahontas also agreed to pay the plaintiffs’ reasonable costs and attorneys’ fees, including expert witness fees and costs. The plaintiffs’ reasonable costs and fees total $48,480.
“Defendant does not admit any liability arising out of the transactions or occurrences alleged in the Complaint nor does Defendant admit any fact or legal conclusion or liability alleged in the Complaint or addressed in this Consent Decree,” the consent decree states.
The lawsuit was filed Nov. 24, 2015, in federal court and alleged that Pocahontas had discharged selenium from three valley fills on its property. Later, the plaintiffs’ agreed to withdraw claims regarding one of the valley fills.
The environmental groups are represented by J. Michael Becher and Joseph M. Lovett of Appalachian Mountain Advocates.
Pocahontas is represented by Christopher M. Hunter and M. Shane Harvey of Jackson Kelly.
U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia case number: 2:15-cv-15515