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W.Va. green groups plan to sue coal companies over alleged water contamination

A coalition of advocacy groups intends to sue the parent companies of 15 coal facilities and a chloride plant in West Virginia for alleged violations of federal clean water and surface mining regulations.

The groups said in a June 4 news release that they sent notices of intent to sue to operators including Southeastern Land LLC, Lexington Coal Co. LLC, Bluestone Coal Corp. and Consol Energy Inc.

One example cited was Murray Energy Corp.'s Harrison County coal mine, which the activists said discharges 220 times its permitted limit of aluminum into the West Fork and Ohio rivers, based on data the facility provided to state and federal regulators.

The coalition, which includes the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy, the West Virginia Rivers Coalition and the Sierra Club, said it would file suit in federal court unless the operators comply with the Clean Water Act and the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act within 60 days.