Reed Mine Proposal on Mulberry Fork

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Reed Minerals No. 5 Mine

A new coal mine is being proposed along the Mulberry Fork of the Black Warrior River near Dovertown and Cordova, upstream of one of greater Birmingham’s major drinking water intakes that provides water for 200,000 people daily. Reed Minerals No. 5 Mine is scheduled to cover 506 acres. The mine proposes to discharge wastewater out of 23 points to the Mulberry Fork of the Black Warrior River, which has the following use classifications: Fish & Wildlife (F&W) and Public Water Supply (PWS). This is the second proposed coal mine upstream of the drinking water supply in recent years, following on the heels of the Shepherd Bend Mine proposal, which is 3 miles downstream at their closest points.

On 9/10/2012 Black Warrior Riverkeeper filed a petition with the Alabama Surface Mining Commission (ASMC) to designate areas adjacent to the Birmingham Water Works Board’s Mulberry Fork drinking water intake as lands unsuitable for surface coal mining. Read more about this legal action:
https://blackwarriorriver.org/news/lands-unsuitable-for-mining

Black Warrior Riverkeeper is concerned about Reed Minerals No. 5 Mine for the following reasons:

1. Reed Minerals No. 5 Mine will discharge to the Mulberry Fork and its tributaries upstream of a primary drinking water intake for the Birmingham Water Works Board (BWWB) which serves approximately 200,000 customers in the greater B’ham area.

2. According to the BWWB, Reed Minerals No. 5 Mine has “the potential to adversely impact the Birmingham drinking water.”

3. The proposed Reed Minerals No. 5 Mine would significantly pollute a source of drinking water – the Mulberry Fork, which has a use classification designating it as a Public Water Supply. The BWWB Mulberry Fork drinking water intake is approximately five and one half miles downstream of the proposed Reed Minerals No. 5 Mine site.

4. If the mine leads to greater demands on drinking water treatment operations including increased treatment costs, these costs will be paid by consumers, not the mining company.

5. Previous comment letters submitted by the BWWB and Black Warrior Riverkeeper incorporate extensive data about the possible impacts of coal mining on local streams and the Mulberry Fork, the public water supply. In sum, those materials conclusively demonstrate that permitting coal mine operations upstream of a public drinking water supply simply cannot and should not happen.

6. The detrimental social and economic impacts associated with contamination of the water supply for 200,000 people would more than outweigh any economic benefit of the mine.

7. Reed Minerals No. 5 Mine joins a cluster of three other large coal mines on the Mulberry Fork that were reclaimed or are currently in reclamation. After active coal mining has ceased, coal mine reclamation in many cases does not stop pollution from flowing off mine sites into the river. The cumulative impacts of all these mines on the river and the drinking water supply have not yet been evaluated.

8. Despite the number of coal mines discharging into the Mulberry Fork and its tributaries upstream of the water intake, to date there has been no study of the cumulative impacts all these mines will have on drinking water quality or the river.

9. The Reed No. 5 permit application has been noticed for comment by the ASMC on multiple occasions over the past year, yet still does not have all information required by law. This missing information (a detailed pollution abatement and prevention plan; precipitation modeling for a surface hydrology assessment; a rare and endangered species survey; a reclamation plan; and a topsoil variance application) must be provided so that the ASMC and the public can make a proper assessment of the potential impacts of the mine. By law the ASMC is responsible for ensuring that the permit application file is complete before inviting public comment. Because the Reed No. 5 file lacks critical information, the public’s opportunity to offer meaningful comment is severely compromised, although we encourage the public to make comments nonetheless.

In light of the concerns outlined above, Black Warrior Riverkeeper OPPOSES the permitting of Reed Minerals No. 5 Mine by the Alabama Surface Mining Commission (ASMC).

ReedMineralsNo.5Mine.NPDESmap

ADEM permit map for Reed Mine No. 5 proposal: 506 acres, 23 discharge points

Mulberry intake 2

Birmingham Water Works Board’s Mulberry Fork Intake, 5 miles downstream of the proposed Reed Mine, provides water to 200,000 citizens daily. Photo by Nelson Brooke.

The ASMC permit application can be found here:
http://surface-mining.alabama.gov/P3957/P3957%20Index.pdf

The Birmingham Water Works Board’s comments to the ASMC can be found here:
http://www.blackwarriorriver.org/pdf/BWWB_ReedMineNo5_ASMC_Comments.pdf

The Birmingham City Council passed a unanimous Resolution on 9/4/2012 imploring the ASMC to deny a permit for the Reed Mine No. 5. Click here for the press release and a link to the Resolution:
http://www.blackwarriorriver.org/releases/2012_PressRelease_BirminghamReedResolution_Sept5.pdf

In addition to the pending ASMC permit, the mine must receive a wastewater discharge permit from the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM). ADEM held a public hearing on June 28th, at which point the ADEM public comment period closed for this mine proposal. On October 10, ADEM rubber-stamped the permit. The permit application can be found at:
http://adem.alabama.gov/newsEvents/notices/may12/5reed2.htm

On 9/10/2012, Black Warrior Riverkeeper filed a petition with the Alabama Surface Mining Commission (ASMC) to designate areas adjacent to the Birmingham Water Works Board’s Mulberry Fork drinking water intake as lands unsuitable for surface coal mining:
https://blackwarriorriver.org/news/lands-unsuitable-for-mining

Black Warrior Riverkeeper’s fellow Reed Mine No. 5 opponents include Alabama Environmental Council, Alabama Rivers Alliance, Avondale Brewing Company, Beth Maynor Young Conservation Photography, Birmingham Audubon Society, Birmingham City Council, Blue Horizon Enterprises, Coalition of Alabama Students for the Environment, Citizens Opposed to Strip Mining on the Black Warrior River, Coosa Riverkeeper, Friends of the Locust Fork River, GASP, Good People Brewing Company, Green Initiative at UAB, League of Women Voters: Birmingham Chapter, Montevallo Environmental Club, Occupy Birmingham, Patriots for Conservation, Public Health Student Association at UAB, Restoring Eden at Samford, Ruffner Mountain Nature Center, Sierra Club: Alabama Chapter, Tennessee Riverkeeper, UA ECo, UAB Student Government Association, and Wild South.

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