Opposition continues to Reed and Shepherd Bend mines

Opposition continues to proposed coal-strip mines to be located on the Mulberry Fork of the Black Warrior River, with protests, petitions and a new legal…

Opposition continues to proposed coal-strip mines to be located on the Mulberry Fork of the Black Warrior River in Walker County, with protests, petitions and a new legal tactic from eco-group Black Warrior Riverkeeper.

Placards used by protestors against proposed coal-strip mines near Cordova and Dovertown. Photo taken prior to June 28 ADEM hearing in Sumiton re Reed Mine No. 5 by Jesse Chambers.

About 1,500 letters of protest written or signed by opponents of the proposed Reed Mine No. 5 near Dovertown were delivered to representatives of the Alabama Surface Mining Commission at the ASMC office in Jasper on Monday, September 10.

Monday was the final day for the public to voice opposition to the mine with the commission.

And eco-group Black Warrior Riverkeeper announced on Monday that it had opened what it calls “another front” in its legal efforts to stop both Reed Mine No. 5 and another coal mine proposed for Shepherd Bend, a few miles downstream.

The group said it has filed a petition with the ASMC to designate areas adjacent to a drinking water intake for the Birmingham Water Works Board located on the Mulberry Fork as unsuitable for surface coal mining. That intake facility provides water to about 200,000 residents in the Birmingham area.

Riverkeeper has previously focused on raising public awareness regarding what it calls the environmental dangers of the proposed Shepherd Bend and Reed mines, both of which would discharge upstream of the Mulberry Fork intake.

Groups that were scheduled to be present at the ASMC office on Monday to register their opposition to Reed Mine No. 5 included Citizens Opposed to Strip Mining on the Black Warrior River, a group composed of some residents of Cordova, Dovertown and Shepherd Bend, and C.A.S.E. (Coalition of Alabama Students for the Environment), composed of students from the UA, UAB, Samford University, the University of Montevallo and Bevill State Community College.

“We try to make sure we take into account everybody’s concerns in our review of our permit application to make sure we do not issue a permit that shouldn’t have been issued,” said Randall Johnson, ASMC director, according to Mike McClanahan of CBS-TV 42.

Some of the signatures offered in opposition to Reed Mine were gathered Friday, September 7, in Five Points South in Birmingham, as reported by Sherea Harris of FOX-6 TV.

The PR campaign led by Riverkeeper to help stop the Shepherd Bend mine has included putting public pressure on the University of Alabama, as reported by Weld Local. The UA is the largest land and mineral-rights owner at the site, and it’s believed that the mine proposal would not be feasible without the UA’s participation.

In addition, Riverkeeper filed a legal challenge in 2008 to a discharge permit given to Shepherd Bend LLC, the mine’s developers, and the group’s appeal of that permit continues, according to the group’s release.

The Birmingham City Council passed a resolution opposing Reed Mine No. 5 on September 4, as reported by Thomas Spencer of the Birmingham News.

The Birmingham Water Works Board has expressed its opposition to the Shepherd Bend mine and, as reported by Weld Local, the board is not particularly sanguine about Reed Mine No. 5.

Darryl Jones, assistant general manager for operations and technical services at the BWWB, expressed concern over the impact the mine would have on drinking water during his appearance at an ADEM hearing in Sumiton on June 28.

“The water we pull out of the Warrior River is a challenge to get treated now, and we don’t want the water quality to go down any more,” Jones said.

Also coming out against the Shepherd Bend Mine was the Episcopal Diocese of Alabama’s Task Force for Creation.

Opposition to Shepherd Bend has also come from Cahaba Brewing, as well as Good People Brewing Company and Avondale Brewing Company, all of whom have expressed concern about the quality of the water they use to make their products.

Jesse Chambers is the editor of Weld Local. Send your feedback to editor@weldbham.com.