Black Warrior Riverkeeper Sues Warrior Met Coal Over Pollution in Tuscaloosa County
An Alabama nonprofit has filed a federal lawsuit against Warrior Met Coal over allegations that the company is illegally polluting waters that eventually flow into the Black Warrior River in Tuscaloosa.
Nelson Brooke, leader of the Black Warrior Riverkeeper, announced the group's decision to sue Warrior Met in a Wednesday press release.
Brooke said the coal company is discharging polluted wastewater from its No. 7 Mine which then flows into an unnamed tributary that feeds into Texas Creek, then Davis Creek, before reaching the Black Warrior River at Holt Lake in Tuscaloosa County.
Brooke said the discharge is not permitted under the Clean Water Act and the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977.
“Texas Creek and Davis Creek are beautiful streams regularly enjoyed by locals and wildlife,” Brooke said. “Unpermitted coal mine wastewater is not welcome in these creeks, so we honor the 50th Anniversary of the Clean Water Act of 1972 by holding Warrior Met Coal accountable through the Act’s citizen lawsuit provisions.”
Brooke claims the wastewater makes recreational activities unsafe in the affected waters, where people fish, canoe, kayak and more.
Brooke said the lawsuit will seek to halt the alleged pollution and bring about "any other appropriate measures by the company to stop its violations of applicable environmental laws."
The mine in question is in northeast Tuscaloosa County, near Brookwood and Abernant.
Nearly 1,000 Warrior Met coal miners have been on strike since last April over the company's allegedly broken promises to improve salaries, policies governing attendance, insurance plans and more.
Warrior Met purchased all assets formerly belonging to Walter Energy in 2015 after the latter declared bankruptcy, and miners claim they were told their contracts would improve after Warrior Met found its financial footing.
The strike began last spring when those contracts reportedly failed to live up to Warrior Met's earlier promises despite record profits at the company.
For more on the strike and the lawsuit as both continue to develop, stay connected to the Tuscaloosa Thread.