Alpha fights to block health studies from permit lawsuit By Ken Ward Jr.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Lawyers for Alpha Natural Resources are trying to keep testimony about West Virginia University studies linking mountaintop removal to birth defects and cancer among coalfield residents out of a legal challenge to one of the company’s new mining permits.

Alpha lawyers want U.S. District Judge Robert C. Chambers to deny a request by the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition to include the studies in its lawsuit over the Reylas Surface Mine, proposed by Alpha subsidiary Highland Mining.

The coalition and other groups are asking to add a claim about potential human health impacts to a suit that challenges a Clean Water Act permit the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued for the 235-acre mine proposed for Logan County.

Environmental group lawyers cited three studies co-authored by WVU researcher Michael Hendryx that found generally higher rates of health problems, and specifically higher rates of cancer and birth defects, among residents living near mountaintop removal operations in Appalachia.



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