Pike residents protest at TECO coal company
TECO Coal is among the state's worst offenders in its abuse
of the land and the people who live near its operations. Residents
of Island Creek in the Grapevine area of Pike County have
tried all the proper channels to get TECO to keep their road
safe and open, to control the dust from their operations,
to prevent and clean up mudslides onto the county road or
into residents' property, to control toxic runoff, and to
just treat people with respect and be a good neighbor. TECO
appears to have no interest in doing any of this. Coalfield
residents in other parts of eastern Kentucky have had similar
experiences with TECO.
Pike residents protest at coal company
TECO mines are danger, they say
By Alan Maimon
The Courier-Journal (out of Louisville, KY)
Ky. -- Claiming that coal mining is destroying areas near
their homes, about 50 Pike County residents and environmentalists
protested yesterday outside the offices of TECO Coal.
Residents of Island Creek waved signs, chanted slogans and
gave speeches accusing TECO's mines of causing flooding, dust
problems, and damage to roads and streams.
Environmentalists traveled from Tennessee and West Virginia
to participate. The citizen group
Kentuckians For The Commonwealth organized the demonstration.
Paul Matney, personnel director for TECO, which employs 1,500
people in Eastern Kentucky, declined to comment on the hourlong
"I really don't know what their concerns are,"
Doug Justice, 64, a retired miner, said strip mining causes
rock slides and mudslides after nearly every rainfall.
Justice said boulders often cascade onto the road in front
of his house, forcing him to clear a path for traffic.
The Kentucky Cabinet for Environmental and Public Protection
has cited TECO three times since September for violations
at its Pike County site in Grapevine, including debris flying
outside the area covered by the mine's permit.
Mark York, a cabinet spokesman, said state regulators are
investigating whether TECO has shown a "pattern of violation,"
which could lead to the state revoking the mine's permit.
Matney declined to discuss the violations.
Laura Plumb, a spokeswoman for the company's parent corporation,
TECO Energy, defended the firm's mining practices.
"Anytime there is a problem, we correct it immediately,"
Plumb said TECO has received several environmental awards.
Brenda Urias, 50, an Island Creek resident who attended yesterday's
demonstration, said TECO hasnot fixed most of its problems.
"The blasting shakes our houses and knocks pictures
off the wall," Urias said. "And discharge from the
deep mines has ruined our water."Her daughter-in-law,
Erica Urias, said residents want TECO to address other problems
as well,including high-voltage power lines on the ground a
few feet from county roads.
"They need to meet with the community," Erica Urias
said. "They havenot been a good corporate citizen."
Fine, Scrutinize TECO Coal
The Tampa Tribune (Florida)
By WILL RODGERS
Published: May 21, 2005
TECO Coal Corp., a subsidiary of Tampa-based TECO
Energy Inc., faces at least two small fines and a broader
but more serious review by regulators of a series of violations
at a Kentucky strip-mining operation. Kentucky mining regulators
have issued TECO Coal three citations since September for
violating permits at its Clinton Elkhorn Mining Co. operation
near Phyllis, Ky., which is in Pike County on the eastern
edge of the state.
The three violations in six months triggered a larger
review called a ``study of a pattern of violation'' to see
whether something is wrong in TECO Coal's mining process,
Mark York, a spokesman for the Kentucky Department of Natural
Resources, said Friday.
Regulators said the company allowed rocks, soil and other
materials to slide down the mountain, outside of the area
it is permitted to work in; did not control sediment from
the mine, allowing it to run across a road; and failed to
keep sediment out of water coming from the mine.
``When we have several [violations] in rapid succession,
it does rise to a pattern of violation review,'' said Larry
Adams, acting director of Kentucky's division of mine permits.
For the rock slide and sediment, TECO Coal has been fined
a total of $2,900. No fine has been assessed for the remaining
violation, Adams said.
Paul Matney, TECO Coal's director of personnel in Corbin,
Ky., who also has acted as the company's spokesman, could
not be reached for comment Friday.
``It appears that all of the incidents were small in nature,''
said Keith Smith, assistant director of Kentucky's division
of mining, reclamation and enforcement. ``But I wouldn't call
them routine. No violation should be considered routine. ...
They were still violations.''
During the larger review, TECO Coal officials will have to
explain why the violations happened and what the company will
do to prevent incidents in the future.
If regulators find the company's response unsatisfactory,
the matter would go to a hearing, where TECO Coal would have
to prove why its mining permits should not be suspended or
revoked, said Paul Rothman, acting director of the division
of mining, reclamation and enforcement.
Angered by the violations, about 50 residents near the Clinton
Elkhorn Mining operation and environmentalists from other
states marched Thursday at TECO Coal's regional headquarters
in Corbin, several news reports said.
Out of more than 1,900 mining permits issued statewide, just
about two or three pattern of violation cases go to hearing
each year, regulators said. Typically, companies pay the fines
and correct their operations before a hearing is necessary.
Ross Bannister, a TECO Energy spokesman in Tampa, said Thursday's
rally was part of a protest, known as Mountain Justice,
by environmentalists against the entire mining industry.
Reporter Will Rodgers can be reached at (813) 259-7870.
Mountain Justice stands in
solidarity with Kentuckians For The Commonwealth & impacted
This is a struggle that cuts across state lines as the Appalachian
mountains are carved up for corporate profits. Protestors
of TECO's abuse of the local communities and environment came
from Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia.
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