CARROLLTON, Ohio (AP) – A citizens group is requesting extra scrutiny of a company’s plans for an underground coal mine in eastern Ohio because of the January chemical spill that contaminated the water supply for 300,000 West Virginians.
The mine south of Carrollton is planned by Rosebud Mining Co., whose owner, J. Clifford Forrest, also owns Freedom Industries, the company responsible for the spill. Freedom Industries has filed for bankruptcy, temporarily shielding it from dozens of lawsuits, many by businesses that lost money while shuttered during a water-use ban.
The Carroll Concerned Citizens group in eastern Ohio has asked the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to put a hold on new coal mining permit requests by Rosebud, according to The (Dover-New Philadelphia) Times-Reporter (http://bit.ly/MSchnx). The letter to the department from the group’s attorney, Richard Salhi, requested extra scrutiny on Rosebud’s application and raised concerns about whether the lawsuits and other issues involving Forrest’s business might affect the Ohio project.
“The big question today in Carroll County is: Can a company facing such enormous liabilities be counted upon not to cut corners on the protections for Carroll County’s irreplaceable groundwater sources?” Salhi wrote.
Officials with Pennsylvania-based Rosebud didn’t respond to a request for comment, the newspaper said.
The company’s planned underground mine would cover more than 9,400 acres, stretching across three townships.
The company also wants to open a surface mining operation on nearly 70 acres.
Officials with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources said the agency’s review of the company’s permit request will take quite a bit of time and is far from being completed.
The citizens group wants the department to suspend that consideration process until the completion of an investigation by federal prosecutors and the clarification of any liabilities for Forrest and Rosebud for damages by Freedom Industries.
Paul Feezel, head of the citizens group, said they have not received a response from the state.
The Jan. 9 spill of a coal-cleaning chemical at Freedom Industries in Charleston, W.Va., spurred a water-use ban for 300,000 people for up to 10 days.