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State Says It Will Dig Deeper on Mining Infraction Claims

March 31, 2010

FRANKFORT, Ky. - State environmental officials say they will take a closer look at claims that a company has been mining in three counties of Kentucky without proper permits and has been damaging streams in those areas. The Sierra Club Cumberland Chapter and Kentuckians for the Commonwealth (KFTC) have sent a letter to Frasure Creek Mining Company saying they have evidence of what has been happening and intend to sue.

Cody Blake Montgomery, a resident of Magoffin County, tested stream water near one mining operation that cropped up between 2008 and 2009.

"The water wasn't clear any more, it was orange. Another small tributary next to it had what looked like an oil slick on top of it."

As a whole, only a small percentage of Kentuckians are employed by coal companies, but in southern parts of the state where mining is more prevalent, people feel the need to stay mum on what's happening, Montgomery says.

"People won't go out against it because they're either employed themselves, or they have family that's employed, or they're afraid to speak out because they're afraid they'll lose their jobs."

For its part, Frasure Creek Mining Company says when it came to light last year that mining was happening in areas where it didn't have permits, the situation was reported to the Army Corps of Engineers. The groups involved say the infractions need to be not just recognized, but permit requirements must be enforced by assessing hefty fines.

More information is available from Sierra Club Cumberland Chapter, 859-296-4335, and KFTC, 502-614-6637.

Tom Joseph, Public News Service - KY