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Judge Rules Coal Mine Polluted Streams in West Virginia

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A federal judge has ruled a coal mine in West Virginia has impaired aquatic life in two streams.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports U.S. District Judge Robert C. Chambers wrote in an opinion issued Friday that contaminated runoff discharged from one of Fola Coal's surface mines damaged Shanty Branch and Elick Hollow to the point of violating state and federal water quality protections.

Chambers says both streams were once thriving ecosystems that supported important functions for West Virginians. He says downstream users rely on them for economic uses including clean drinking water, fishing, recreation and tourism.

Chambers' decision is his latest in a series of rulings made in citizen lawsuits on coal-mining water pollution. He ruled the case brought by five environmental groups proved Fola violated its water pollution permits.

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