Long History of Pollution on Dunkard

Washington PA  Observer Reporter
27 March 2011
Letter to editor:

In his March 22 letter in the Observer-Reporter, P. Jerome Richey, Consol Energy's chief legal officer, said, "Consol Energy has operated along Dunkard Creek for almost 40 years, and an incident such as the fall of 2009 fish kill had never occurred."

I have lived on Dunkard for over 60 years and have seen several major mine-acid kills resulting in the total destruction of life in perhaps the entire lower 20 miles or so of this stream. The discharges were from the Christopher mines from 1947 to 1979.

I caught Consol polluting around 1975, and due to the 1972 federal Clean Water Act was able to have the discharge shut off after only two miles of Dunkard Creek in West Virginia had been destroyed.

Consol had been discharging bad water often in violation of federal law for years prior to the 2009 disaster resulting in the severe decline of native game fish and other aquatic populations, leaving mostly non-native carp and musky, a fish that has been stocked about every year since 1964 because it can survive where native bass can't.

With all the planning that goes into mining, I have to ask why Consol didn't have proper treatment facilities and have to wonder if they expected the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection to permit the discharge of their poison into Dunkard till after all their coal and gas had been depleted.

In the long run, perhaps the golden algae did us a favor in exposing Consol's pollution and the failure of West Virginia's governmental agencies to protect resources.

Cam Lemley

Core, W.Va.