June 23, 2022 - Black Warrior Riverkeeper filed a notice of intent Tuesday to sue Warrior Met Coal and MRC-FG, LLC in federal court for discharging polluted wastewater at locations that have not been permitted.
Black Warrior Riverkeeper said the unpermitted discharges from Mine No. 7’s Slurry Impoundment No. 14 flow into an unnamed tributary that eventually feeds into Texas Creek, a tributary of Davis Creek, which flows into the Black Warrior River at Holt Lake in Tuscaloosa County.
The notice letter was filed regarding the coal mine’s failure to comply with the Clean Water Act and the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977.
In a statement sent to ABC 33/40, Black Warrior Riverkeeper said, "testing so far does not prove the water to be unsafe but BWR is concerned about what may be in the discharge. BWR advises people to use their best judgement when using Davis Creek.
“Davis Creek is a beautiful, free-flowing stream frequented by locals for swimming, fishing, and enjoyment,” said Nelson Brooke, Black Warrior Riverkeeper. “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.”
To address Mine No. 7’s violations and ongoing pollution, Black Warrior Riverkeeper is seeking a halt to the unpermitted discharges, and any other appropriate measures by the companies to stop their violations of applicable environmental laws.
Black Warrior Riverkeeper says the unpermitted discharges from Mine No. 7’s Slurry Impoundment No. 14 flow into an unnamed tributary that eventually feeds into Texas Creek, a tributary of Davis Creek, which flows into the Black Warrior River at Holt Lake in Tuscaloosa County.
Photo: Black Warrior Riverkeeper
“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,” said Eva Dillard, Staff Attorney for Black Warrior Riverkeeper.
Warrior Met Coal is a metallurgical coal mining company, which purchased several coal mines, including this one, out of Walter Energy’s 2015 bankruptcy. United Mine Workers of America miners employed at Mine No. 7 have been off the job and waging a strike against the company for over a year due to disputes over wages and benefits they gave up to keep the mines open.
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. Warrior Met Coal 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.
You can view Black Warrior Riverkeeper's Notice of intent to sue below: