Sierra Club files notice to sue Hazard mine company

The Sierra Club has filed a federal "notice of intent to sue" ICG of Hazard because of selenium being discharged from Thunder Ridge mine in Leslie County into Lower Bad Creek.

The environmental group, in a letter sent to ICG, contends that selenium discharges are not allowed by the mine's permit. The group also says the specific conductivity — a measure of minerals dissolved in water — of streams flowing from the Thunder Ridge mine has been affected adversely.

The company is reviewing the letter, ICG spokesman Roger Nicholson said.

"We will investigate promptly the matters asserted in the notice of intent," he wrote in an e-mail. "However, we believe that this move is yet another attack in the Sierra Club's aggressive effort to disrupt the mining of our most abundant natural resource — coal — and to interfere with those businesses who operate in Appalachia and employ thousands of workers in the region."

High concentrations of selenium can cause mutations and reproductive failure of fish and other aquatic life. At higher levels, it can cause health problems in humans.

A notice of intent to sue gives the company 60 days to respond, after which the group may file a citizen suit under the federal Clean Water Act.