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Ohioans in Nation's Capital: "Don't Use Streams As Landfill"

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 By Rob Ferrett/Eric Mack, Contact
May 16, 2007

Appalachian streams and lakes are being filled in with mining waste, and Ohioans are in the nation's Capitol this week to call for a stop. Companies are dumping waste from mountaintop removal coal mines into streams, which they're allowed to do after a 2002 rule change by the Bush administration. One Ohioan making the trip to D.C. is Jean Taylor from Washington Courthouse, near Dayton. She says dumping mine waste into streams is destroying a beautiful landscape, and hurting the health of people in Appalachia.

"To replace beautiful mountains with a wasteland is the most unbelievable thing. You know, if people knew what was going on, I don't think they would stand for it."

The dumping was allowed in part to cut down on coal-mining costs. A bill before Congress would restore the ban on dumping in waterways. Most stream dumping happens in West Virginia and Kentucky, but critics say it could set a precedent nationwide unless the law is changed.

Joan Mulhern with Earthjustice points out that over 1,200 miles of streams have been filled in by mining waste since 2002, and another thousand are likely to be filled in if the laws aren't changed.

"I can't imagine anything more at odds with the law designed to protect the nation's waters than saying that it's OK to fill them up and destroy them with any kind of waste."

Mulhern adds dumping in mountain waterways also causes pollution downstream, as toxic minerals find their way into the water.

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