(04/30/2010)
The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection is allowing Consol Energy to continue discharging water into Dunkard Creek, a stream in Monongalia County.

Dunkard Creek, which stretches over 40 miles in an area near Morgantown, was the scene of a kill that eliminated most of the fish and aquatic life in 2009.

The kill is likely the worst ever reported in the Mountain State.

State officials said the kill was caused by Golden Algae bloom.

The Pennsylvania DEP and the federal Environmental Protection Agency say mining discharges from nearby Consol Energy mines helped create conditions for the algae to bloom.

The new order issued by the agency requires the coal company to increase monitoring at the creek and abide by new discharge limits.

The order requires Consol to monitor the creek and the company could be required to stop discharging mine water immediately if the algae begins to grow this year.

The order expires at the end of October.

In the first analysis of its kind, research is showing a relationship between human cancer rates and stream health in coal mining communities.

West Virginia University and Virginia Tech researchers are publishing a four-year study that links stream health with human cancer mortality rates.

The latest research is called "Ecological Integrity of Streams Related to Human Cancer Mortality Rates."

Nathaniel Hitt, a professor from Virginia Tech, says "There's been a lot of evidence that shows that stream quality is impaired around mining activity. There's been a lot of other independent research that shows that people's health is impaired if they live near mining activity."


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