March 16, 2015
Residents can’t get state’s attention to problems
By Jennifer Ferguson
Over the past three years a strip mining job has brought nothing but trouble to one Martha, Kentucky hollow, according to residents. Kentucky Energy LLC, a strip mining company operating on Cam Creek, is being blamed for not cleaning up their mess, bogging the creeks with tree stumps and shrubs and even damaging the road.
“The winter before last they tore the road up so bad the school bus wouldn’t even run up here,” said resident Pamela Maxie. “It wasn’t until I got it published in the newspaper that they decided to do something.”
Now, Maxie says the trouble doesn’t lie in the road, but in the creeks.
“The creeks are so full of tree stumps when it rains hard it causes them to flood,” she said “There was a pretty waterfall we could take the kids to look at, but you can’t even see it now for all the brush in the creek”
Despite numerous complaints, Maxie claims no action has been taken to resolve the problem.
“I’ve called the number on the sign several times, never can get an answer. I’ve told the employees working up here and the supervisors,” said Maxie. “They all say they’ll get to it, but getting to it never did happen.”
Maxie says she doesn’t understand how they get away with it, or why inspectors aren’t forcing them to clean up their mess.
“It doesn’t make sense, you’d think the inspectors would make them take care of this problem,” she said. “They’re supposed to clean up their mess.”
Martha isn’t the only area to be experiencing trouble with mining companies.
In a separate event, a coalition of citizen groups recently filed a federal lawsuit against Frasure Creek mining, LLC, for submitting to the state more than 100 false water pollution monitoring reports from its Kentucky coal mines. The violations took place in Floyd, Magoffin, Pike and Knott Counties. The false reports amount to nearly 20,000 violations of the federal Clean Water Act and carry a total maximum penalty of more than $700 million, The Lexington herald-Leader reported today.
“Our state officials have turned a blind eye to what is obviously serious problem,” said Ted Withrow, a member of Kentuckians for the Commonwealth and retired Big Sandy River basin coordinator for the Kentucky Division of Water. “False reporting is widespread within the coal industry, but state regulators have little incentive to identify problems like these when there are false reports that make everything look great.”
“Coal jobs may be leaving the state, but the industry’s legacy of environmental damage is here to stay,” said Pat Banks, Kentucky Riverkeeper. “With declining coal production, we need to be more diligent than ever to make sure companies can’t cut corners at the expense of local residents and the environment. We need healthy people and a healthy environment for Eastern Kentucky to be able to flourish.”
Kentucky Energy LLC has not responded to numerous attempts by reporters and residents to calls concerning the ongoing damage.
“I guess this is far enough out of the sight of most people that they (state) just don’t care, but this is our home and we want it stopped,” one resident added..