Kentucky: Dangerous levels of selenium in water, fish near coal mines

Lexington Herald-LeaderSeptember 1, 2009 

State regulators have found dangerous levels of selenium in water and fish near coal mines in Eastern Kentucky, but they have not required mine operators to monitor for the mineral, environmental groups charged Tuesday.

The state Division of Water stalled for two years before releasing the information, the groups said.

"What makes us the maddest is that the division has had this information for a while now," said Judith Petersen of the Kentucky Waterways Alliance. "And they not even asking the coal industry to monitor for it."

State officials did not immediately respond to the charges.

The groups — the Sierra Club, the Appalachian Center for the Economy and the Environment, and the waterways group — said the state surveyed 13 sites in the region. At one mining site and one road cut, it found that water downstream exceeded state water quality standards. Other mining sites showed elevated levels.

At three mining sites, the groups said, tests of fish tissue exceeded the federal Environmental Protection Agency's recommendations for the mineral.

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