Enjoy, Explore, and Protect the Planet Sierra Club Allegheny Group, Pennsylvania Chapter

Mining Rivers and Water

Fish & Boat Commission Sues Consol over Dunkard Creek

Three years ago to the month there was a massive fish kill in Dunkard Creek that has become a celebrated example of what can happen to Pennsylvania’s more pristine creeks. Last week the PA Fish and Boat Commission sued Consol Energy for civil damages, claiming that Consol contributed to the 2009 fish kill by discharging waste water from a nearby mine into the creek.

At first the cause of the fish kill along 30 miles of the creek along the PA-WV border was uncertain, with some suggesting that Marcellus shale gas drilling may have been the cause. By December 2009 the WV DEP and the federal EPA identified the cause of the kill as the growth of an algae bloom resulting from mine discharge. Consol denied any responsibility, and the Pennsylvania DEP actually granted a permit to Consol to continue discharging mine waste water into Dunkard Creek.

In March of this year Consol Energy agreed to pay $5.5M in civil penalties to the EPA, US Dept. of Justice, and state of West Virginia for Clean Water Act violations at six West Virginia mines, including payment of $500,000 for the 2009 disaster on Dunkard Creek.

The Fish and Boat Commission’s Greens County suit seeks to-be-determined “monetary relief against Consol for damages to the natural resources of Pennsylvania and lost recreational opportunities for Pennsylvania anglers.”

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