by Cathy St.
pre-hearing conference to lay the groundwork for a formal
hearing on challenges to the September issuance of a discharge
permit by the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and
Energy to Consolidation Coal Company was held last week in Big
granted by DMME will allow Consolidation to discharge mine
water from Buchanan No. 1 which has been stored in VP-3
directly into the Levisa River without pre-treatment.
different parties have objected to the issuance of the permit
and requested a formal hearing; however at last Wednesday's
pre-hearing conference at the DMME Big Stone Gap office, only
the Town of Grundy and the Big Vein companies (Yukon
Pocahontas, Buchanan Coal Corporation and Sayers Coal
Corporation) were identified as parties to the case. The other
five petitioners, all of whom filed to contest the DMME action
to grant the discharge permit, were told they would have to be
considered individually as to whether they would be allowed to
intervene in the case.
County; Grundy Attorney Mickey McGlothlin as an individual;
Jeannie Keen, of Vansant;
Commonwealth Attorney Sheila Tolliver as an individual;
and Wellmore Coal Company, LLC, were told their involvement in
the case would have to be considered.
Coal Company has filed a motion to intervene.
suggested to Hearing Officer Tom McCarthy that Buchanan County
and he as an individual had filed for a formal hearing within
the 30-day time limit they were notified to do so in and as
such, he said, both should be accorded full party status and
be allowed to participate in the hearing on equal footing.
that the town and Big Vein companies were the first to file in
the 30-day time limit, he suggested, shouldn't matter as long
as any others meeting that deadline were all considered the
Buniva, attorney for Consolidation Coal Company, said he did
not recall seeing a letter from Buchanan County on the case,
but said if the county had filed in time that was fine and if
not, he added, "they are not a party."
practical matter, interveners are given the same status,"
would like to participate to the fullest extent,"
took a statement from McGlothlin as well as a motion asking
that McGlothlin and the county be accorded full party status.
agreed to take the matter under consideration as to status of
McNeely, of Buchanan County Against Pollution, told the
hearing officer he was also there representing the Big Sandy
Soil, Water and Conservation District and the Big Sandy River
U.S. Attorney Sharon Pigeon, who is representing the
Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy in the case,
suggested after McNeely's comments later in the meeting that
while it was fine for McNeely to represent himself, he was not
admitted to the bar and as such could not represent the other
groups in any formal hearing proceedings. McNeely told the
hearings officer the group he represented was a non-profit
asked the attorneys present to give him an overview of the
case and the reason for the hearing. Scott Sexton, attorney
for the Big Vein companies, stepped forward to explain. He
noted the case was filed after the department issued the
permit to Consolidation which will allow for mine water from
Buchanan No. 1 to be pumped to VP-3 and then pumped out and
discharged into the Levisa River in the vicinity of Poetown.
the various concerns in the case ranged from those who are
concerned because of the high concentration of chlorides or
other metals and minerals
in the water proposed to be discharged, to those who are
concerned about what impact the water being stored in VP-3
will have on coal seams at VP-3 and the future mine-ability of
that coal. Sexton suggested to the judge that the companies
and those who objected to the permit needed to know the scope
of the hearing that McCarthy would conduct.
state takes the view it should be more narrow, but we would
like it to be wider," Sexton said.
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