71 sue over coal dust
ALLEN - A lawsuit against a Floyd County coal processing plant grew considerably this week when some 66 residents of Allen, Dana and Banner joined in the environmental legal battle.
According to the attorney Ned Pillersdorf, the lawsuit, which targets Grizzly Processing LLC and Frasure Creek Mining LLC, originally filed by Richard and Bonnie Crisp, has grown to 71 people.
Daniel Branson, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit said, “You can't go outside, can't barbecue. Our lawn furniture is covered in dust.”
In 2007 Frasure Creek/Grizzly was found to be out of compliance twice in as many months by the state Environmental and Public Protection Cabinet's Division for Air Quality when they were found in violation of two KAR statutes.
Steve Hall, an environmental inspector out of the Hazard office, reported that during his inspection on Jan. 2, 2007, he monitored the site for several hours, noting that the coal trucks were tracking material onto Route 1426 and U.S. 23, and that the dust from this was not being vacuumed up, but merely swept to the side.
Hall also spoke with local residents during his investigation and observed dust on several homes. A followup investigation by Hall in March 2007 revealed the coal operation to still be noncompliant.
“It is almost insidious how that dust gets on everything overnight,” Branson said. “We'll go hose off the patio and the furniture, and it's covered again the next day.”
In June, a notice of noncompliance was issued along with a fine of $2,500, and in October a final order for payment of the fine was demanded by EPPC. The current status of those proceedings could not be determined, as phone calls to officials with the cabinet were not immediately returned.
Of particular interest to residents are the possible health issues the dust could cause.
“That dust is in our furnace filters, which we're having to change more regularly,” Branson added, “If it's airborne, we have to be breathing it in.”
In the complaint, the plaintiffs state that the coal mining activities at the processing plant and coal tipple have both contaminated and polluted their residences.
According to the complaint, “The continuous coal dust and noise emitted from the defendant's coal mining and processing operations, including the running of their coal trucks, have caused substantive and unreasonable interference and violation of the rights of the plaintiffs to enjoy, use and utilize their houses and properties.”
Pillersdorf says in the complaint that several of the plaintiffs have respiratory health problems, which have been reportedly exacerbated by the coal operations taking place.
It is also alleged that the value of the plaintiffs' homes has diminished as a result of the processing plant.
The plaintiffs are seeking compensatory damages for the loss of value in their residences, as well the loss of use of those residences, costs of repair, associated medical expense, and suffering damages. The plaintiffs also are asking for an assessment of punitive damages against the coal companies for their “reckless disregard of the plaintiffs' rights.”
The plaintiffs now listed on the complaint include:
Bonnie and Richard Crisp, Banner
Mitchell and Mary Williams, Banner
Gene and Norma Davis, Banner
Angie Hall and Glenna Childers, Banner
Kenneth and Liz Allen, Allen
Daniel and Pat Branson, Allen
Tony and Judy Childers, Allen
Elsie Belle Conn, Allen
Jackie Day and Rita Crisp, Allen
Aaron and Patricia Derossett, Allen
James Jr. and Wanda Harmon, Allen
Geraldine Martin, Allen
Belinda Martin, Allen
Bill and Josephine Schlick, Allen
Ruth Ramey, Allen
Gertrude Bevins, Allen
Jack and Daneque Howard, Allen
John Goble, Allen
Jeff and Heather Meade, Allen
Edgar and Phyllis Craft, Allen
Wendell and Alma Jean Patton, Allen
Lloyd and Tommie Layne, Allen
Roger and Vanessa McKinney, Allen
Georgia Salisbury, Allen
John and Minerva Pelphrey, Allen
Bobby and Klora Osbourne, Allen
Charlotte Reynolds, Allen
Ova and Ruth Salyer, Allen
Phillip and Alma Stumbo, Allen
Brandon and Jamie Castle, Allen
Ramon and Marie Childers, Allen
Thomas and Margaret Holbrook, Allen
Sherry Cline, Allen
Larry and Mary Thompson, Allen
Carl Sellards, Allen
Tommy and Maudie May, Allen
Melissa Anderson, Allen
Beatrice Branham, Allen
Charles Lemaster, Allen
Scotty and Amy Jarvis, Allen
James and Eileen Banks, Allen
Christina Compton, Allen
Colleen Compton, Allen
A legal complaint is not a determination of guilt, and only presents the plaintiffs' side of the case.
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