Published: Monday, November 01, 2010, 11:00 PM
The proposed Walker County strip mine near a Birmingham Water Works drinking water intake on the Mulberry Fork was the subject of a Monday night "teach-in" on the Samford University campus.
About three dozen Samford students heard from a professor, neighbors of the proposed mine and environmental opponents at the event hosted by Samford's environmental student group Restoring Eden.
The Samford group is joining with student groups at the University of Alabama and the University of Alabama at Birmingham who have organized protests of the planned mine.
Restoring Eden President Alex Gerrish, a sophomore, said the teach-in was designed as an educational forum to help students understand a complicated issue.
"We are students standing with our fellow students," Gerrish said.
Last month, the Alabama Surface Mining Commission issued a permit to a company owned by members of the Drummond coal mining family that would allow mining to begin on the first portion of the property at Shepherd Bend.
The University of Alabama is the largest owner of land and mineral rights in the area, and the company will need the university to lease or sell the land for the project to go through, according to opponents.
The Birmingham Water Works Board has opposed the mine, which would discharge water from its sediment ponds into the river upstream of the Mulberry Fork intake. The board fears the mine's heavy metals and sediment will affect drinking water quality and taste and will increase the cost of treatment.
Bob Greene, an environmental law professor at the Cumberland School of Law at Samford, explained to students some of the basics of the Clean Water Act. Greene said the federal act forbids putting pollutants in the waters of the United States, with permitted exceptions.
In Alabama, the Alabama Department of Environmental Management is given the authority to issue these permits. However, the agency's approach to permitting has been challenged in the Shepherd Bend case. ADEM gave the mine a permit without ever seeing the mine's plan for preventing pollution, operating under the assumption that the Alabama Surface Mining Commission would review a pollution abatement plan.
This entry passed through the Full-Text RSS service — if this is your content and you're reading it on someone else's site, please read our FAQ page at fivefilters.org/content-only/faq.php
Five Filters featured article: Beyond Hiroshima - The Non-Reporting of Falluja's Cancer Catastrophe.