Ohio EPA May 6, 1999 transcript  of hearing about OVCC's valley fill permit
digitized by Chad Kister



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Thursday, May 6, 1999; 6:00 p.m.

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Whereupon, this matter came on for hearing at Belmont Technical College and the proceedings were as follows:
Wheeling, WV

 Pittsburgh, PA Morgantown, WV Martins Ferry, OH
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 MR. JOHNSON:  We are going to go ahead and get started.  Again, the purpose of the hearing is

  to obtain comments regarding the section 401 Water Quality Certification, modifications to an existing NPDES permit and a permit-to-install requested by the Ohio Valley Coal Company. This proposed project would allow Ohio Valley Coal add an additional 93 acres of fill space to an existing 65-acre valley used for waste coal disposal.  Ohio Valley Coal has also proposed to treat 72,000 gallons per day of wastewater associated with the coal processing operations which will be discharged into Perkins Run, and subsequently Captina Creek.

A court reporter is present to make a stenographic record of tonight's proceedings. Under the federal Clean Water Act, each state is required to develop and adopt water quality standards for its surface waters.  The standards represent the minimum quality that fulfills the Clean Water Act mandate for tishable1 swimmable waters.  While a lowering of water quality may be allowed, this cannot exceed state water quality standards for human health or aquatic life.

All written and oral comments received as part of the official record will be considered prior to a final action.  All exhibits including maps, brochures, letters and any physical evidence referred to in your testimony will become part of the official record and may not be returned.

To be included in the official record, written comments must be received by the close of business on May 10, 1999.  These comments can be filed with me today or sent to Ohio EPA, Division of Surface Water, Attention: Permits Processing Unit, P0 Box 1049, Columbus, Oh 43216-1049.

The Director of Ohio EPA, after taking into considerations the recommendations of the program staff and comments presented by the public, may issue, modify or deny the requested permits.  The decision will be communicated to the applicant, all person who have submitted comments, and all person who present testimony at tonight's hearing.

Final actions of the Director of Ohio EPA are appealable to the Environmental Review Appeals Commission, or, if the appeal arises from an alleged violation of a law or regulation, to the Court of Appeals in the district in which the violation was alleged to have occurred in accordance with section 3645.06 of the Ohio Revised Code.  Proposed actions can be appealed to Ohio EPA for an adjudication hearing.

Any order of the Court of Appeals is appealable to the Supreme Court of Ohio.

If you wish to present testimony at this hearing tonight and have not already completed a blue card, please do so at this time. The cards are available at the registration table. I will call out names in the order that I have received them.  Please remember, when your name is read, please step up to the microphone, state your name, spell it for the record and then proceed with your testimony.  Representatives of Ohio EPA in public hearings of this type are not allowed to answer any type of questions in the public hearing.  If you have a question, please phrase your comments in the form of a question and the Agency will address your concerns in writing.

The first person wishing to testify is Chad Kister.

Please be careful of the cords up here.
MR. KISTER: I'm Chad Kister and I'm representing Dysart Defenders, which is an organization devoted to protecting Dysart Woods and it's greater ecosystem.

I first of all want to question what the purpose for a public hearing is on a permit when they have already begun activity without that permit.  Here we are supposedly in the process to decide whether Ohio Valley Coal Company can destroy and decimate this 93 acre valley and the western tributary of Perkins Run when they have, in fact, already begun massive devastation in this area without a proper permit.

This is a clear violation of the Clean Water Act.  It is a clear violation of Ohio Environmental Protection Agency Rules and they need to be held accountable for it.  I think the number one way to hold~Ohio Valley Coal accountable is to deny these permits, all three.

In addition, I'm going to show tonight reasons why these permits violate the Clean~Water Act and violate the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency's rules and regulations.

This here is a photograph taken yesterday of the 93-acre portion that they have not had a permit to destroy.  This shows at least a half mile, at least 20 acres of destruction, total devastation where there once was a stream and a forest and what has been described by OEPA officials as untouched stream and valley.  And very clearly there has been devastation recently in from the Valley side.  They have bulldozed and destroyed the forest.  They have relocated the stream, the western tributary of Perkins Run, all in violation of the Clean Water Act.

They are required to have a permit to do this destruction.  They do not have that permit.  This here is a public hearing to decide whether they-- part of the decision making process of whether they get that permit.  And yet they have done the destruction and they have got to be held accountable.

It is critical that the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, if it is to maintain any credibility, to enforce the Clean Water Act, deny these permits and impose very serious, very strong sanctions to make sure that the Ohio Valley Coal Company does not do this again. This is a coal company with massive revenue.  If they can get away with this, then the Clean Water Act is not worth anything and the environmental laws of this country are not worth anything.  If the laws of this country mean something, we have got to make sure Ohio Valley Coal Company is held accountable and very strongly punished for this destructive, illegal activity.

Now, I find it very outrageous to be here in 1999 with a coal company wanting to mine under the last ancient forest of its type in Dysart Woods and then dumping the polluted fill into the watershed of one of the last exceptional warm water habitats of our state.  Southeast Ohio has been decimated by coal mining.  More than half of our streams are devoid of fish because of acid
mine drainage, past coal mining abuses.  In fact, some of the damage down at Captina Creek, though it is an exceptional warm water habitat, the existing damage is from coal mining activity.

It is critical that we not allow any more coal mining activity if we are going to maintain the exceptional warm water habitat status of this creek that Ohio EPA has said that this creek meets.
And it would be in violation of the law, the Clean Water Act and the OEPA rules for there to be any degradation that would cause a lowering of the quality standards for this creek.

Now, the permit to install should be denied for several reasons, one of which is there cannot be proper evaluation in the quality of the stream when they have already destroyed it.  How can there be proper monitoring when they have already bulldozed and destroyed a large section of the stream?  Clearly on those grounds alone, the permit should be denied.

Second, being an important and as the Ohio EPA calls it, an untouched tributary of this exceptional warm water habitat, the Captina Creek, in order to maintain that exceptional warm water habitat, it is critical that no destruction or pollubion of the watershed at Captina Creek occur.

Now, even the coal company's own data, which is very open for questioning in terms of the skewing towards their goals, but even their own data, they cannot deny the fact that the magnitude of anticipated impact on the lowering of water quality for the tributary of Captina Creek, which we know as Perkins Run, the western tributary of Perkins Run, and the northern tributary of Perkins Run, all three of these streams according to the coal company's own data will be 100 percent impacted for aquatic life habitat, wildlife habitat, other individual species and overall aquatic community function and structure.

They're going to decimate, destroy and kill this stream that is part of a very rare, exceptional warm water habitat of this state and it must be denied.

Also, the national pollution discharge elimination system permit or the permit to pollute should be denied.  The 72,000 gallons of polluted water that they want to add into Captina Creek should not be allowed.  It would cause a lowering of the status from exceptional warm water habitat in violation of the Clean Water Act.  Being an exceptional warm water habitat of our state, these are the most important of streams to protect. Clean streams are critical to our tourism and to the health of the environment of our region.

I have personally seen, wading in the stream yesterday, just a stream of warm water destroyed, numerous and diverse fish of various kinds:  Large mouth bass, rock bass, a large amount of fish that need exceptional warm water habitat as the EPA classifies the stream.  And we should not allow these very rare exceptional streams to be polluted with 72,000 gallons of pollution a day.  It must be denied.  It will violate the Water Act, the mandate of the Ohio EPA and therefore the Ohio EPA must deny the permit.

Also related to the illegal activity this permit should be denied because they have already illegally done damage to the watershed making it impossible to evaluate the impact that this would have because they've already impacted it.  If we can't see what exists, how can we know what there is, what permits were violated and the information needed to get the permits?  We can't.

They have illegally done this.  They knowingly knew they needed a permit, obviously they filled it out, and they should be held accountable and the NPDES permit should be denied.

Also, the 401 permit to relocate the western tributary of Perkins Run should be denied The relocation of streams decimates the streams. It turns meandering streams built up over millions of years, very clear, very healthy streams and it turns them into lifeless ditches.  They want to turn into a straight rock-lined ditch what is currently a meandering, very healthy stream.  It's in violation of the Clean Water Act and it must be denied.  It would harm Captina Creek, an exceptional warm water habitat, and it would cause a lowering of the classification of that just down stream of a warm water habitat in violati6n of a Clean Water Act and therefore. it must be denied.

Further, how can we study the health of the stream when they've already bulldozed it, illegally.  Once again because of the illegal destruction and relocation of the stream without a 401 permit, we cannot-- the EPA cannot properly evaluate the stream and therefore the permit should be denied.  This has a healthy stream up stream and below it a lifeless ditch.  Clearly they cannot study the health of the lower section that's been bulldozed and not knowing that, it must be denied because they cannot get the proper information to do the study.  It is critical that the EPA deny all three of these permits for the reasons outlined.

And I also would like to talk about the impact on Dysart Woods.  This is coming from mining that they want to do under Dysart Woods. Ohio Valley Coal Company has pending permits directly under Dysart Woods.

Clearly, we must save our last ancient forest and this permit is part of the permit process that would destroy the last 004 percent of the remaining ancient forest left in our state.

Ohio was once 95 percent covered with ancient forests and we have destroyed 99.96 percent of that and it is critical that we save the remaining last remanent.  According to the U.S. Department of Interior, this ancient forest ecosystem is among the most endangered ecosystem in the world.  This is the world we're talking about, not just Ohio, not just the United States. We are talking about planet Earth.  This is an endangered ecosystem that we have left on our earth and it is utterly critical that we save it. And this permit is part of the permit to destroy Dysart Woods, in addition to Captina Creek and the valley that we've been discussing.

And I think also it is critical-- I find it very wrong that we are having a public hearing without the mitigation plan to study and to comment on.  It is very critical that the EPA have a second public hearing after the mitigation plan-- or the final plan has been released so that we can study it and comment on it.  It would be a violation of OEPA rules and regulations to not have a public hearing after we have had a proper chance to study the mitigation plan.  And it is critical the EPA hold a second public hearing after the final mitigation plan draft has been released so we can study that and properly comment on it.  And it's critical that they hold another public hearing because we do not have the proper
information to study and offer comments. Also, I want to emphasize the quality of the stream of Captina Creek, being an exceptional warm water habitat it is very critical to tte tourism of this region.  Tourism is a way that we can produce a long-term economy, not the short-term boom and bust of the station of the coal industry.  And therefore, I refute all arguments of Ohio Valley Coal Company that they have an economic or social reasoning for this project because the economic and the social of this is destruction and loss of livelihood as we heard earlier that occurred in the questioning period of local people in this area, that that's what we are talking about.  And the economics is negative and long term and that needs to be taken into account.  They should be given no latitude whatsoever for any so-called economic benefit that they claim because, in fact, they are part of the bust that is devastating both the environment and the economy of southeast Ohio.

If coal mining is truly good for the economy, we would be in one of the wealthiest regions of the country and the world.  We have seen tremendous amounts of coal mining here and what we have seen is a bust.  We all know that we live in a very terrible economy in southeast Ohio and it is all related to the bust and the destruction of the coal industry.  We have a vibrant tourism economy with massive employment, much higher wages and much higher quality of life if we were to shift over to the tourism economy and towards other economies that don't destroy the environment and away from the destructive economy of coal.  And this is from the EPA report of the health of McMann, Captina and Sunfish Creeks of Group 7 segment data.  And what they found was of the 274.6 miles of stream, only 39.2 of it is exceptional warm water habitat.  And it shows the exceptional nature of this segment that must be preserved with this very exceptional quality of water and we must not allow it to be destroyed in this way.

So, I want to emphasize that all of the permits of Ohio Valley Coal that we are considering tonight must be denied.  And again, I think the EPA needs to have a second public hearing.  Thank you.
 MR. JOHNSON: Chris Evans. MR. EVANS:  My name is Chris

I'm going to read something just to This is a quote from William dean at the school of architecture, the of Virginia. "We must face the fact that what are seeing across the world today is war.  A against life itself.  Out present systems of design have created a world that grows far beyond the capacity of the environment to sustain life into the future.  The industrial idiom of design failing to honor the principles of nature can only violate them, producing waste and harm regardless of purported intention.

If we destroy more forest, burn more garbage, drift net more fish, burn more coal, bleach more paper, destroy more topsoil, poison more insects, build over more habitats, dam more rivers, produce more toxic and radioactive waste, we are creating a vast industrial machine not for living in but for dying in.  It is a war to be sure, a war that only a few more generations can survive.

I have come here today to speak on behalf of myself, but not only on behalf of myself.  I am speaking for the life forms with which we share this planet, the trees, animals, fish, birds, plants, reptiles, and the human children, seven generations now and all the other people who have been neglected in our political process when I say that these permits must be denied because of the effects-- the negative effects long term of the ecology of this region, the social structure of this region, the human community here and the economic effects, as well.

The economic gain that is being sought by Ohio Valley Coal Company even to the extent that it is providing jobs for a large number of people in Belmont County cannot outweigh the destruction that is going hand in hand with that.

The economic gain that is being sought cannot remedy the ecological, biological and spiritual cost of the economic gain, itself.  The students-- the united students at the University of Madison in Wisconsin have recently issued a resolution to the United States Government, to the United States Military, demanding an immediate end to the undeclared war on indigenous people in this country, on this continent and in this world.

I would like to go on record as saying that there are indigenous peoples here from the County of Belmont, in the State of Ohio, in the country of the United States of America who have come to protest this permit being passed.  And that will be on record for anyone in the future who wishes that information.

That's all I have to say.

 MR. JOHNSON: Thank you.
Dma Rudick.
MS. RUDICK: My name is Dina Rudick.

I don't have a prepared speech but what I do have are a lot of thoughts and a lot of questions.  I'm furious that Ohio Valley Coal has broken the law, but that doesn1t surprise me. What I'm furious at is that I can tell the EPA, that people representing the EPA, that Ohio Valley Coal Company has absolutely no respect for them, for the law, for the integrity of our homes and the integrity of life on this planet and they can sit there and talk about technical merit.

I'm furious at the double standard,

how the people representing EPA can be human and can be judgmental and can put in their inferences when it comes to the cost benefit analysis of social and economic~and environmental impacts, yet there are hard and fast lines with technical merit.  They can go to the coal company and say, "Look, you put this period in the wrong place in your application or you have to tone down this number, or you have to pay us a little bit more, you have to tweak this and tweak that.1

But, you know, this woman over here (indicating) told me that her neighbor lost a cow in a stream that has been treated with treated water from a coal runoff.  I mean, a cow has disappeared into a stream by sinking into the sediment at the bottom.  She wouldn't even let her own cat swim in Captina Creek.  I mean, people used to swim and fish and play around in these streams when they were younger and now that they have been coal dumped into they wouldn't touch them.  I wouldn't touch them.  I don't know if you can walk outside and walk into this forest and see what a real untouched river looks like, or a stream looks like and then look at what the destruction has created.  It's created like this radioactive green or yellow or orange looking gutter.  And, yes, that was a rant.

I would like to go on record saying that I absolutely oppose all three permits.  I think that it is the duty of the EPA to, you know, lower the table a little bit, to pass some judgement on the situation and say, '1ohio Valley Coal, you guys are being idiots, you are breaking the law, you have absolutely on intent on following anybody else's rules but your own. You1ve got no intent of anything, of the bettering of the economy, helping out people's jobs, bringing development to this area, you just want money.  And for that, I'm going to deny you the permit. And you guys can just forget about mining under Dysart or anywhere around Dysart."

I think it's high time we started exploring options other than coal, even though that is unrelated to this situation.  I think it's essential that there be another hearing when we have all the details of mitigation in front of us.

I think that if the tables were reversed and it was Ohio Valley Coal at our mercy, that they would demand the same things and you guys would listen because they have 95 billion dollars and I have $4.56 in my back pack.

And that's all I have to say. MR. JOHNSON:  Art Strauss. MR. STRAUSS:  My name is

Arthur Strauss, A R T H U R, S T R A U S S and I~m from Columbus.  And I've been observing EPA hearings for the better part of 20 years, everything from nuclear waste dumps to ponds and now Dysart Woods and the dumping of mine wastes into pristine streams.  These young people have given me a very hard act to follow.  I'm 75 years old and I will soon have to lay down the torch. But they are representing us very admirably and I just wish that there were tens more, hundreds more, thousands more  millions more Americans who are willing to spend their time fighting impossible battles against impossible odds.  The corporate structure of America has concentrated the wealth so completely that there is very little left for the little people to choose from as weapons to fight their overwhelming power. I'm opposing the three permits which

are a very small portion of the whole picture. The whole picture includes why should we be mining high sulfur coal at all.  Well, it's because we have a number of grandfathered power plants in Ohio, grandfathered by the corporate power acting through legislation and litigation to control what happens in our state with illogical and unlawful in the higher realms, actions such as grandfathering the oldest and most plants in Ohio so that they didn't the EPA regulations.

This grandfathering is now leading to Ohio Valley Coal Company doing what they're used to doing and not progressing into the real world and into the future, but staying back in the Neanderthal age where they can make their short-term profits and ignore every common sense action that they might be taking to the detriment of the people, to the detriment of the environment, to the detriment of us all.

I recommend to the EPA that they stiffen their resolve, that they stop looking in polluting power have to fulfill the microscopes of their water quality and 401 whatever that is-- I haven't quite figured that out yet-- but the 401/Wetland Department of the Division of Surface Water is also looking at the technical side, they're looking at the microbes under their microscope and they're never looking outside those, except in a cursory way.  And to value-- to value the social aspects of this and the environmental aspects of this decision on the three permits would require them to deny them out of hand, but they are constrained by law, constrained by litigation precedence to following the microscopic analysis which really doesn't address the problem at all.

So I think your answer tied in the EPA and that's because corporations in America over the last history of the United States have legislated and litigated and used their monetary power to buy elections, to buy public officials to buy the whole Democratic process so that we no longer have access-- equal access to the government.  The EPA is really a regulatory agency generated and created by the corporations.  And until we can change that situation in America so that corporations are no longer the controlling and dominant institutions in our nation, we are a lost society.

 Thank You.

My name is Bill Siplivy.  I'm an engineer with Ohio Valley CoalbCompany and I have no prepared script either, but I will explain the project.

Ohio Valley has been in operations for over 30 years, coal mining in this area in Belmont County has been active for ten years.  it's most interesting to me that wildlife abounds throughout the area.  All this talk about fish dying and no fish and no wildlife habitat.  In our No. 2 slurry dam which takes the processed water from the water plant, we have bluegill fish, we have small mouth bass, we have ducks and geese, waterfowl.  It seems to just make that a natural home for them so I'm very, very curious as to how this destruction and gloom and doom seems to have
here (indicating), about 4,100 feet.

In '82 permits were secured and what they did, they breached through a ridge and isolated 3,000 feet for ponds for treatment and what have you.  Wildlife abounds through there. There is no massive destruction.  It's quite--quite fertile area for what its intent is.

The area that we are working on right now is within that permitted area by ODNR.  What has been done, a decant has been extended down stream about 800 feet.  A clay liner has been installed as per the state regulations and state designed criteria and everything off the permit and everything near the western tributary has been left undisturbed.  There is no impact at all on the western tributary.  What has been done is, we picked up that drainage, channeling it off to the west and put it back into Perkins Run.  I can show you some photos on the other side of this where about four months out of the year that western tributary is dry.  There is no water.  The aquatic life doesn't exist year round.

The final reclamation for the project, the grand scheme is to migrate west, fill in this valley.  It will be capped and covered as per ODNR and EPA requirements.  It will be seeded, wildlife has a way of just coming back into the area.  We have seen that not just here but on all projects I have been associated with everywhere in the east. All reclamation jobs, at some point in time, they begin to develop trees and wildlife just seems to work its way back in.  So the massive devastation, it isn't what's happening here at all.  The proof is in the pudding.  It's a very fertile area, it's a very active area.

As far as the endangered species go we had a consulting firm do an evaluation of the western tributary and they found no endangered species.  We also addressed the mitigation and we are very anxious to work with ODNR and the EPA to mitigate-- thank you for the courtesy-- we would like to mitigate that Captina project, it's a very high priority project to ODNR.  It's located in Brook Township several miles downstream in Captina and it happens to be one of the key pollution sources for Captina and we are very, very anxious and very proud to be a part of participating in the reclaiming of that site.  So that is high on our priority list.

Another opportunity that was suggested to us by EPA, Ohio EPA, was to establish and easement restriction along streams in the area and we have offered-- then forth offered the 6,000 feet to be encumbered along both.  And that is still open and that's our intent, so there is a mitigation plan in effect.  Coal refuse, that's what is being deposited right here, coal refuse is pieces of coal that comes through the preparation process and it also includes carbonation shales and clay stones.  You have to know that as you walk up the western tributary there are two coal beds that naturally outcrop:  No. 10, that's the Uniontown and No. 11, the Waynesburg, those coals outcrop naturally and also the carbonation shales outcrop.  So what is naturally occurring here is the very same thing that we are placing in here (indicating)

And in essence what we have provided the EPA was a plan showing the natural progression westward for continuing our refuse fill process. And in accordance with the design criteria established by the EPA when the site is completed, the top of the refuse will be graded appropriately, covered with the appropriate cap, seeded and there will be diversion ditches around all the plants to divert the surface waters according to state standards.

That's really about all I have to offer.  Thank you.

MR. JOHNSON: Justin Goodwin.

MR. GOODWIN:  My name is Justin Goodwin.
What a wonderful way to prove that coal mining is not harmful to our environment by purposely going out and destroying yet another part the environment.  I mean, that's just ridiculous.  And as to the point of wildlife coming back, well it might come back, but it doesn't have anywhere else to go so it comes back to an area that's been degraded by human actions. It doesn't mean that just because it's there, it's as healthy as it once was.  And lastly, one doesn't search for endangered species in an area that's already been affected by human actions.  Of course there are no endangered species, if there were any they're dead now.  You don't go in after you have done something and look for species that may have been endangered.  They're not there anymore.

We have been told by the EPA representatives here that there is no distinct point, no distinct line at which we may determine-- the income of coal mining and sludge filling are so important that they destroy one of Ohio's exceptional warm water habitats.  I'd like to suggest one.  Life.  We are talking about life here.  Captina Creek is life and if we go out and destroy it then we destroy a part of Ohio's ecosystem.  Yeah, there are still animals and there are still plants here.  There are still ducks and squirrels running around but there used to be a time when all of this was covered by trees, when animals were all over the place.  And just because there are a few here now doesn't mean, well, that's okay.  There's going to come a time when we destroy so much there's nothing here anymore, and then what do we do?

We can't totally disassociate ourselves from the environment and I think a lot of industry would like to think that we can.  But there comes a time when we don't have anymore trees, we don't have anymore water that's good enough to drink and then what do we do?  We make tree scents and artificial landscapes to look at but has any of you ever gone out and sat in an untouched part of the forest and experienced it?

I mean, I have and it's a beautiful experience and there's going to come a time when nobody can do that anymore because it's all been mined under and it's all be landfilled in and then what do we have?  We have an environment that's not worth looking at, we have a planet that's not worth living on.

So the line here is life.  If we allow these permits to occur, if we allow these three permits to go through then we are destroying life. And we're having destruction of our own environment, we're destroying ourselves physically.

Furthermore, I'd like to suggest that a cease and desist order be issued immediately. They've already broken the law and if we come back or you guys search six months from now and find out that irreversible damage has occurred because the landfill occurred before the permit was even issued1 then we may have lost part of-- a very vital part of our environment when it shouldn1t have happened.
That's all I have to say.  Thanks.

MR. JOHNSON:  John Morgan.

MR. MORGAN:  John Morgan.  I just have one general comment that I wish that backfilling could receive more consideration and eventually it seems like it could be-- also alleviate the problems of subsidence as well as the landfill.
MR. JOHNSON: J.D. Fussner.

MR. FUSSNER: Thank you, John.
I don't know how many of these people in here are gardeners and I doubt that very many of you that are gardeners have ever tried to raise a garden on reclaimed land.  Well, I have on several different reclaims.  And being an organic gardener myself, I don't believe in man-made herbicides or pesticides or any of the other man-made things.  I use compost and mulch and leaves and all that. And it takes about ten years to bring the land back to what it was before it was mined
I know that just from the mining, it not only reduces the alkalinity ii' the soil, it not only lowers the Ph level1 but it sucks all the nutrients out of it.  And it takes a lifetime, practically, to replace them.  That's letting nature have its own course, even more than a lifetime.  And being an organic gardener, I know that there's too many things that can go wrong when the land is destroyed for greed for a few dollars in your pocket.  And that's exactly what the coal industry is, there after that few dollars that they can make off of it.  And I think that all of the three-- what are they called-- permits, the three permits should be cancelled completely. I don't think they should be allowed to do it. And looking at the people who live in the area, hey, how's it going to affect them 10, 20 years down the road?  How's it going to affect their children, their grandchildren?

And I guess that's all I have to say.
\MR. JOHNSON: Thank you. Don Nippert.

MR. NIPPERT: I love this.
This is my first.

I'm Don Nippert.  I live downstream from Ohio Valley Coal.  And Bill, I liked your presentation.  The fact of the matter is I'm not against coal mining.  I was a coal miner for eight years, North American Coal.  I worked for them. And people made a good living working for the coal companies, so I can't really knock them.  The point being, Bill, I don't think we're going to stop this EPA and I don't think we're going to stop these permits.  And I still don't think we have the clout to do it.  I think the corporations are going to get that permit whether we want it or not.

The point being, I don't want the creek to be any worse than it is right now. you can guarantee me that when you get these permits, you get these new sludges1 that the will maintain where it is right now?  Can you guarantee that?

You're the engineer.  I'm asking you,

will the creek be the same quality--

MR. JOHNSON:  I'm sorry, he can't comment.  You can talk if he's willing.

That's the point, Bill.  I mean, I have no problem if they get the permit, which I'm sure they're going to get it.  It's just that we maintain the quality of life that we have right now.

MR. SIPLIVY: It's been there during the hearing to him afterwards, for 30 years.

MR. NIPPERT: I know, and I been there longer than that.  I been on the creek longer than that.  I lived there all my life.

I just don't see how, first of all, somebody can police themselves.  That's like telling we'll all raise our hands, swear to God we'll all go 65 the rest of our lives.  Let's do away with the state patrol.  People can't police themselves, I mean you just can't do it.  If people could police themselves, you would make rules up, write a book, give it to the corporations and say, "Now we no longer need the EPA because they know the rules to go by and they'll go by them."  The fact of the matter is that we need somebody to police these people.  We all need policed once in a while.

72,000 gallons a day.  I don't how you come up with this 72,000 gallons a day is going to be treated.  I imagine it's going to vary.  I know you can't ask questions now, but I'm sure in the spring when we have a lot of rainfall it's going to vary.  So how you come up with 72,000 gallons a day is beyond me.

Secondly in these slides you're showing I can't understand why-- what it would be-- there are 450 jobs and it costs them so many millions of dollars to truck this stuff to Harrison County.   Who cares?  What does that have to do with the impact that this sludge pond is going to impact on the environment.  I mean, it has nothing to do with it.  And in these slides there's not one mention of how many people live downstream or how many people use the creek or how may families oppose this.  I mean, there's nothing to do with the people that live there.

But you do mention the coal company
and what it's going to cost them and the amount of jobs there is.  I mean, that has nothing to dd with it.  I don't care what it's going to cost. If they were going to damage, if I actually believed they were going to damage the creek worse than it was, I could care less what it's going to cost them.  I'm not making any money off that mine.  I don1t make a profit off that mine.  I don't care what it's going to cost them, that's their business.

That's what you ought to be looking at, if it's going to hurt the environment, then that's their fault.  If they have a responsibility here to truck this stuff, it's going to cost them something, then it's going to cost them more to run this place than what they're going to make, then they'll shut it down.  It's a business.  It shouldn't fall on my shoulders.  I'm not making no profit off of it.  It reminds me of the railroad for God's sake.

You have to imagine how much we've been shit on down on the creek in the last ten years.  Christ, we've got Conrail going through there who will not take care of the right-of-way.
Weeds growing up, it's up to you and me to maintain Conrail1s right-of-way.  The railroad crossing, you have to go through Hell and high water to get a railroad crossing at your house and you can't get it.  You can't get a railroad crossing.

There's drainage along the sides of the railroad tracks by my house.  I have to go out and drain it myself.  If I don't  there's mosquitoes and leaches in that.  And you got to put up with the coal dust, the trucks every day. Your kids can't ride the-- you can't go for a family ride down there because you will get run over by a coal truck.  You're almost guaranteed that.

You're not taking into account the fact that all the timbering going on in the rural areas right now.  They're not only just timbering, they're clear cutting places and all the silt is just running off into the creek and it's making the creek a little bit hard on the fish to survive down there.  If you've lived there all your life, you can tell the difference in the amount of silt that's in the creek now.  I'm seeing an accumulation of all these things and the quality of life seems to be going down a little bit here and a11 we1re asking is that the quality of life stay pretty much where it is.

I know there's guys that work down there and I respect that.  I know everybody has to make a living.  But we are just asking for them the do their share and we'll put up with a little bit of shit but they have to give a little bit back is all we're saying.

If Ohio Valley Coal buys another farm maybe they should think maybe we shouldn't timber this out, let's meet them halfway down there. Let's help them out a little bit.  That's all we're really asking  just keep the quality of the water where it is.  Let's just not make it any worse than it is and we'll try to live with you and you'll try to live with us and we'll try to get along.  How's that?  Okay.               That's all I really got to say.

MR. JOHNSON: Thank you.

Is there anyone else wishing to testify this evening?

As a reminder, all written questions will be accepted until May 10th.  So this meeting is adjourned.

 The time is now 8:55.

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(Whereupon, proceeding was concluded at 8:55

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