In a September lawsuit filed in Greene County Common Pleas Court in Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Fish and Game Commission said high concentrations of chloride and total dissolved solids from the company’s Blacksville No. 2 and Loveridge underground mines in West Virginia caused a “total fish and mussel kill” in Dunkard Creek in September 2009.
“The devastation to Dunkard Creek was astonishing,” said John Arway, executive director of the commission. “It will take decades to restore it to its prior condition.”
In addition to the 42,000 fish, 15,000 freshwater mussels and 6,000 mudpuppies that were killed, the commission said the polluted water resulted in at least 1,455 “lost” fishing trips to the creek.
Dunkard Creek’s main channel begins near the town of Brave in Greene County and meanders about 37 miles between Pennsylvania and West Virginia until its confluence with the Monongahela River in Greene County.
CONSOL, based in Pittsburgh, had no comment on the suit.
In March 2011, the company reached settlements with the U.S. Department of Justice and Environmental Protection Agency as well as the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection. CONSOL agreed to pay a $5.5 million civil penalty to resolve hundreds of federal Clean Water Act violations at six of its mines in West Virginia over the past four years, including Blacksville No. 2.
The Fish and Game Commission is seeking unspecified compensatory damages for the loss aquatic life and the missed fishing opportunities, plus punitive damages to deter future pollution.