Monday, October 18, 2010

Strip mine opponents give boat tour of area

(Cordova, AL) WIAT- The Birmingham Water Works Board has an intake on the Mulberry Fork that serves 200,000 people in the Birmingham area.  There could potentially be a mining wastewater discharge site 800 feet away if the Shepherd Bend mine permit is approved.

"I think the residents of Birmingham should be up in arms about how close and unprecented this is to their drinking water source. You know, we take our drinking water for granted when we get up and make our cup of coffee or glass of tea everyday," said Mulberry Fork property owner Todd Hyche.

    Representatives of the Birmingham Water Works Board, local environmental groups, and local college students all boarded pontoon boats today for a guided tour from Mulberry Fork residents.
 "That way they can see how potentially fragile it is. They can see how beautiful it is. They can see the proximity to the drinking water supply," said Mulberry Fork resident Randy Palmer.
  Birmingham Water Works Board spokesperson Binnie Myles said board representatives were just there to observe the site Sunday and declined to comment on the proposed mine.
  In earlier comments to the Alabama Surface Mining Commission the Birmingham Water Works Board expressed opposition to the mine permit and said it has the potential to adversely impact the Birmingham area drinking water.
The letter said wastewater discharge could affect the taste of drinking water and stain clothes.
 It said "the permit application does not address the protection of the public water supply from pollution by many other mining-related pollutants."
 Arsenic, cadmium, lead, mercury, and zinc are among the toxic metals which are often associated with drainage from coal mines, according to the BWWB letter.

   The University of Alabama system reportedly owns some of the mineral rights in the affected area. Concerned UA system students say the fight over the future of the land is not over, no matter what happens with the permit.
 "We do want them to commit to saying that they will never consider mining on this land even if this particular permit is not approved," said Adelaide Abele, UAB.

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