Citizens Question Opening of Coal Mine after Chemical Spill

By: WSAZ New Staff, The Associated Press Email
By: WSAZ New Staff, The Associated Press Email

CARROLLTON, Ohio (WSAZ/AP) - A citizens group is requesting extra scrutiny of a company's plans for an underground coal mine in eastern Ohio because of the January chemical spill that contaminated the water supply in parts of 9 counties in West Virginia.

The mine south of Carrollton is planned by Rosebud Mining Co. That company's owner also owns the plant responsible for the West Virginia spill, Freedom Industries.

The Times-Reporter in the Dover-New Philadelphia says Richard C. Salhi, attorney for Carroll Concerned Citizens, sent a letter Monday to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, asking it to place a hold on new coal mining permit requests by Rosebud, because its owner, J. Clifford Forrest, also owns Freedom Industries, the company responsible for the Jan. 9 spill near Charleston, W.Va.

According to the paper, Forrest purchased the company Dec. 31, 2013, day before the leak was discovered.

The group's attorney wants extra scrutiny on Rosebud's application. Residents are concerned about making protecting their groundwater.

"We strongly believe that Mr. Forrest's role in the Freedom Industries fiasco necessitates that your department subject this application to greatly enhanced scrutiny if Carroll County is to be protected from the type of sordid events being revealed in Charleston," Salhi wrote in the letter, addressed to ODNR Director James Zehringer.

Salhi said Carroll County residents are concerned by what Forrest's financial liabilities mean for them. "The big question today in Carroll County is: Can a company facing such enormous liabilities be counted upon not to cut corners on the protections for Carroll County's irreplaceable groundwater sources?" he asked in the letter, according to the paper.

Rosebud Mining, based in Kittanning, Pa., wants to open an underground mine in Center, Union and Lee townships. The operation would cover 9,407 acres. In addition, the company wants to open a surface mining operation on 67.9 acres in Union Township.

The newspaper says Rosebud officials didn't respond to a request for comment.

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