Patriot Coal Corp. is going to have to spend millions of dollars on a selenium clean up drive at two of its surface coal mines in West Virginia as a federal judge has ordered them to clean up the pollution they have caused.
Selenium gets discharged as a trace mineral from Appalachian surface mines. Selenium in high levels in streams can kill or deform fish and other aquatic life forms. The ruling made on Tuesday by Judge Robert Chambers of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia.
This is a landmark decision as it is the first time a court has demanded restrictions on selenium as per calls from environmentalist groups.
Ed Hopkins the director of the Sierra Club said that the court order was a game changer in their fight to protect streams and communities in West Virginia and to hold coal mining companies accountable for their pollution.
After receiving the judgement the President and Chief Executive officer Richard M. Whiting said that they were particularly disappointed with the contempt ruling. He said that Patriot has been at the forefront for developing a solution to this complex issue confronting the mining industry and had dedicated significant resources in identifying viable treatment technology to address selenium discharges.