Overseeing the Overseers

By Cindy Rank

In 2011 the WV Highlands Conservancy and WV Rivers Coalition successfully sued the state regulatory agency, WV Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP), to require them to assume responsibility for treating water at a number of bond forfeiture sites across the state.

One of those sites was the Greendale site in Clay and Nicholas Counties and WVDEP finally issued itself an NPDES permit in 2014. Over the ensuing years a series of compliance schedules and alternative plans and extensions appear to have stymied rather than advanced the construction of a treatment system.

On June 29th 2021 our groups sent a Notice of Intent to Sue WVDEP, threatening a possible citizen suit against WVDEP for violating the NPDES limits it gave itself in its permit for the Greendale site.

The Notice cites some 780 violations of permit limits for pH, iron and aluminum since October 2016 (the highest number of violations of any NPDES permit in West Virginia according to the U.S.EPA’s ECHO tracking system), and questions why this site isn’t among the highest priorities for using funds from the Special Reclamation Water Trust Fund to treat the nearly 57 tons per year acid load documented as being discharged from the site.

The notice letter gives WVDEP 60 days to inform us of steps the agency plans on taking to correct these violations before we proceed with filing a complaint in Federal Court.