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Pollution traveling from water to land

Pictured is the former Hobet mine site in Danville. The mine was one of the largest surface mines in central Appalachia before it shuttered in 2015, causing lasting environmental damage to the Mud River basin. A 2020 study focused on mined streams in the area and yielded evidence that coal mining-derived selenium pollution was being transferred to food webs on land in proportion to the extent of mining onsite. 

An element with toxic effects for West Virginia’s aquatic life is being transferred to food chains on land in proportion to the extent of coal mining nearby.

“The more mining, the more selenium entering the streams, the more selenium is getting into the food chain,” said Jacqueline Gerson, a postdoctoral researcher in ecology at the University of California at Berkeley. “There’s no doubt that mining is the cause.”

Liable for selenium pollution

A federal judge found Gov. Jim Justice's Bluestone Coal Corp. liable for selenium pollution at the Red Fox Surface Mine in McDowell County last year. Upon taking office in 2017, Justice said he would put his adult children in charge of his family’s business operations. The West Virginia Secretary of State's Office lists his son James C. "Jay" Justice III and daughter Jillean L. Justice are listed as directors of the company. 

Mike Tony covers energy and the environment. He can be reached at 304-348-1236 or mtony@hdmediallc.com. Follow @Mike__Tony on Twitter. 

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