USA: Human Rights Watch study finds deregulating mountaintop removal threatens drinking water & public health in Appalachia

Author: Sarah Saadoun, Human Rights Watch, Published on: 14 December 2018

"The coal mine next door: how the US government's deregulation of mountaintop removal threatens public health," 10 Dec 2018

This report examines how, following aggressive industry lobbying, Congress rolled back a modest regulation, making it easier for the coal industry to destroy mountains and bury the waste rock in streams, and the Interior Department canceled a study it had funded assessing the practice’s potential health impacts…  The report finds that Congress’ decision to repeal the rule ignored significant evidence indicating mountaintop removal poses a health risk to nearby residents and gave undue consideration to a deeply flawed industry-funded study... Where evidence indicates that corporate activities pose risks to public health or other human rights, the US federal and state governments have a duty to regulate these activities so as to effectively mitigate these risks. They should not eliminate existing regulations that serve to protect people from harm without putting in place effective alternative protections. [Recommendations to coal companies include:]

  • Ensure that any industry-funded research is accurate, independent, and peer-reviewed...
  • Mitigate any adverse health risks of company activities… Consider refraining from any activities whose severe harmful impacts cannot be sufficiently mitigated...
  • Conduct public meetings in residential areas where well water may be negatively impacted by mining activities prior to initiating mining and periodically throughout the life of the mine. Inform residents of the risks of water contamination and develop a complaint mechanism

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Related companies: Arch Coal