Bear Run coal mine in Sullivan County is being told officials there need to better demonstrate how their operations are affecting local waterways.
An Indiana environmental law judge ruled last week that the Indiana Department of Environmental Management did not perform the proper Tier II antidegradation review as mandated by the Clean Water Act.
“It was Peabody’s burden to make an affirmative demonstration that degradation for the receiving waters was justified by economic or social factors that would not cause violations of water supply,” Judge Catherine Gibbs writes.
That means Peabody will have to come up with an explanation of how it will impact the local economy and water supply, and the IDEM will be tasked with making sure that plan is followed through.
But Gibbs also ruled that Bear Run Mine, which is the largest coalmine in the Eastern United States, was in compliance with the Clean Water Act on five other counts.
She stated that Sierra Club, which brought the suit, was unable to provide sufficient evidence otherwise.
“Today’s ruling reaffirms Bear Run’s general permit as appropriate to the operation, and we will continue to review any additional steps to maintain compliance,” Peabody Energy officials said in a statement.
But Indiana Sierra Club Representative Jody Perras says Bear Run should still be subject to a individual permit that would require it to abide by stricter regulations.
“With an individual permit we would expect that Bear Run would have to do a lot more monitoring and reporting to IDEM than it does now. They don’t currently have to monitor for metals that we know come off of coal mines,” she says.
Perras says similar coal mines are known to produce mercury, selenium and other heavy metals that run-off the site and into local water supplies.