Activists: EPA must act on surface mine runoff into Tennessee streams

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) -- Activist groups want the Environmental Protection Agency to adopt new rules that would better protect Appalachian waterways from pollution by mountaintop removal coal mines.

The 17 groups want EPA to create a new conductivity standard under the federal Clean Water Act to protect streams in Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia, Tennessee, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Conductivity is the ability of water to transfer electricity. High conductivity might signal the presence of pollutants including chloride, phosphate and nitrate.

The petition submitted Monday was filed during the eighth annual End Mountaintop Removal Week in Washington, D.C.

Judy Petersen of the Kentucky Waterways Alliance says that while state regulators won't set conductivity standards, their own data indicates a problem.

In 2010, she says, only 6 percent of Kentucky's rivers and streams fully supported aquatic life.


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