Spruce No. 1 Mine
After extensive scientific study, a major public hearing in West Virginia and review of more than 50,000 public comments, EPA announced that it will use its authority under the Clean Water Act to halt the proposed disposal of mining waste in streams at the Mingo-Logan Coal Company's Spruce No. 1 coal mine. EPA is acting under the law and using the best science to protect water quality, wildlife and Appalachian communities.
Clean Water Act Section 404(c) authorizes EPA to restrict or prohibit placing dredged or fill material in streams, lakes, rivers, wetlands and other waters if the agency determines that the activities would result in "unacceptable adverse effects" to the environment, water quality, or water supplies. This authority applies to proposed projects as well as projects previously permitted under the Clean Water Act although EPA is not considering such action for other previously permitted projects.
The Spruce No. 1 Mine is one of the largest surface mining operations ever authorized in Appalachia. It is located in Logan County, West Virginia in the Spruce Fork Watershed, which has been impacted by previous mining activities. The Mingo Logan Coal Company has been authorized by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Huntington District to construct six "valley fills" and numerous sedimentation ponds in Seng Camp Branch, Pigeonroost Branch and Oldhouse Branch and certain tributaries to those waters by discharging excess spoil generated by surface coal mining operations. These on-site streams are tributaries of and exhibit surface water connections to Spruce Fork of the Little Coal River, which ultimately flows into the Coal River.
EPA has reason to believe that the Spruce No. 1 Mine, as currently authorized, will result in unacceptable adverse effects to fish and wildlife resources. EPA's action prevents construction of valley fills in Pigeonroost Branch and Oldhouse Branch. It does not affect current mining operations in Seng Camp Creek.