Advocates To Sue Warrior With Coal For Discharge In Black Warrior River

Advocates To Sue Warrior With Coal For Discharge In Black Warrior River

TUSCALOOSA, AL — Black Warrior Riverkeeper on Tuesday filed a notice of intent to sue Warrior Met Coal and and MRC-FG, LLC in federal court for violating the federal Clean Water Act.

MRC-FG, according to the court filing, is permitted to operate the Mine No. 7 Preparation Plant — a coal processing facility at 18069 Hannah Creek Road in Brookwood.

Riverkeeper Nelson Brooke said during the union miners’ absence, two local creeks ran black with coal waste from Mine No. 7 in April 2021 and Warrior Met Coal was fined by regulators. However, Black Warrior Riverkeeper insists the west Alabama coal producer is currently working to open another massive underground coal mine — Blue Creek Energy Mine No. 1 — on the northwest side of the Black Warrior River.

Warrior Met Coal informed investors in May that it expects to spend approximately $45 million this year to begin work on building out its Blue Creek reserves with the additional of a new longwall mine near its current mining operations in Brookwood.

Still, Black Warrior Riverkeeper provided ample photographic evidence showing seepage through the ground and in nearby bodies of water. According to analytical results from samples of the seep discharges, researchers found the presence of iron, manganese, magnesium, aluminum, nickel, and zinc as well as chloride, sodium — all of which are hallmarks of discharge from coal mining and prep plant operations.

“Our objective in sending the notice letter today is to ensure that Mine No. 7 complies with the law, fixes their slurry impoundment and ends their unregulated discharges of pollutants to affected tributaries of the Black Warrior River,” staff attorney Eva Dillard said on behalf or Black Warrior Riverkeeper.

The advocacy group said the wastewater then flowed into an unnamed tributary that feeds into a series of creeks leading to the Black Warrior River at Holt Lake in Tuscaloosa County. Other impacted creeks and tributes include Texas Creek and Davis Creek.

Brooke said the notice of intent to sue was filed specifically in regards to the coal mine’s failure to comply with the Clean Water Act and the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977.

“Davis Creek is a beautiful, free-flowing stream frequented by locals for swimming, fishing, and enjoyment,” Brooke said. “Unpermitted underground coal mine wastewater is not welcome in this beloved creek, which is already being polluted by Mine No. 7’s permitted wastewater discharges. We honor the 50th Anniversary of the Clean Water Act of 1972 this year by holding polluters accountable through the Act’s citizen lawsuit provisions.”

As part of its efforts, Black Warrior Riverkeeper is requesting a halt to the unpermitted discharges and any other appropriate measures by the companies to stop their violations of applicable environmental laws.

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