IDEM Ordered to Screen for Pollution
September 18, 2013 — An Indiana environmental law judge says the Indiana Department of Environment Management needs to review pollution potential for water near Bear Run coal mine in Sullivan County.
Judge Catherine Gibbs issued that order as part of a 20-page ruling in an environmental case started by Sierra Club in 2010 against IDEM and the mine’s owner, Peabody Midwest Mining, LLC.
Judge Gibbs ruled against five counts of claims by Sierra Club in her ruling this month, while granting summary judgment in favor of Sierra Club on a claim that Sierra Club describes as, “The State of Indiana has failed to comply with the Clean Water Act by allowing the Bear Run coal mine in Sullivan County to discharge toxic water pollution without first determining that local waterways would not be degraded…”
Sierra Club challenged a state-granted modification to a permit to Peabody for the Bear Run mine, citing on one count that those parties had not proven that resulting water discharge would not violate the federal Clean Water Act regarding contamination of adjacent waterways.
Judge Gibbs’ ruling says, “The IDEM failed to perform a Tier H antidegradation review as required by the rules in effect in 2010 when this modification was issued. It Was Peabody’s burden to make an affirmative demonstration that degradation of the receiving Waters was justified by economic or social factors and would not cause violations of Water quality. Peabody failed to do so at the time of the application for the Modification. The Modification is remanded to the IDEM to conduct a Tier II antidegradation review.”
Sierra Club says the Indiana mine, “is the largest surface coal mine in the eastern United States, producing between 8 and 12 million tons of coal annually.”