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Pallone Calls for Action to Prevent Mining Waste from Contaminating Water Supply

May 8, 2013
Press Release

Washington, DC –This week, Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) and Congressman David Reichert (R-WA) reintroduced the Clean Water Protection Act, legislation with 45 bipartisan cosponsors that would prevent industrial mining waste from entering the water supply and harming human and environmental health.

“I remain committed to passing this legislation that will alleviate the wide array of human health issues directly correlated with mountaintop removal coal mining,” said Pallone. “By restoring the Clean Water Act to its original intent, we’ll be able to keep toxic mining waste out of our nation's streams.”

The legislation seeks to correct a loophole created under the Bush Administration that makes it easier for mining companies to dump harmful material from mountaintop removal mining in a way that compromises the health of nearby communities.

Mountaintop removal is a mining method in which the top of a mountain is blown off to extract thin seams of coal. The use of this mining method permanently destroys streams, forests and mountains. The broken rock from this process is usually dumped into nearby valleys, creating "valley fills" that cover thousands of acres of land and bury thousands of miles of streams.

Numerous severe health problems are associated with exposure to chemicals and heavy metals that are byproducts of the mountaintop removal process including cancer, organ failure and learning disabilities.

The legislation introduced by Pallone and Reichert redefines "fill material" to exclude mining waste materials and clarifies environmental law to restore and maintain the chemical, physical and biological integrity of the nation's waters.

“Mining companies should be required to safely dispose of waste material when it has the potential to seriously harm people’s health.  Residents who live in coal country deserve better than this,” Pallone added.