published Thursday, October 11th, 2012

3 environmental groups fight mountaintop mining permit

KNOXVILLE — Three environmental groups are challenging a state permit for a mountaintop removal mining operation in East Tennessee.

The Sierra Club, Statewide Organizing for Community eMpowerment and the Tennessee Clean Water Network filed an administrative appeal Thursday with state environmental regulators. The petition says the permit from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation allows greater pollution into streams and less stringent monitoring than is required by federal clean water laws.

The Zeb Mountain mining site in Campbell and Scott counties is operated by National Coal. It is the largest mountaintop mining site in Tennessee.

It’s the second permit TDEC has issued for the site because the company challenged the previous one.

The environmental groups say the second permit is weaker and allows more pollution from selenium and other harmful materials.

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