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SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 17, 2007
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Shelby coal mine closed for pollution

COLUMBIANA (AP) — A Shelby County coal mine has been shut down after state
investigators discovered that it had been intermittently pouring slurry into a Cahaba River tributary for as long as a decade.

State regulators said Tacoa Minerals, which has operated the mine for about two years, has agreed to pay a $55,000 environmental fine and clean the site.

It faces further sanctions from the agency that regulates surface mines.

A deer hunter near Gurnee spotted black water entering Piney Woods Creek, which la-ter enters Cahaba, from an unnamed tributary in November.

"It's located in a very remote area, and it's not something you would find very easily," Randall Johnson, director of the Alabama Surface Mining Commission, told The Birmingham News in a story Friday.

State officials said the hunter climbed through rough terrain until he found eight or 10 years of coal waste piled up over about half an acre.

He told the Cahaba River Society, which notified the Alabama Department of Environmental Management, whose inspectors also found discolored water coming from the site the following month.

According to records on file with the state, the environmental agency and Tacoa have agreed to a fine of $55,000 in a consent agreement, the News said.

The company must also clean up the contaminated soil and other wastes. An ADEM spokesman said water quality tests aren't complete yet.

Johnson said the Surface Mining Commission plans additional fines of up to $5,000 per incident.

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Information from: The Birmingham News

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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