Mill Creek and Puncheon residents need your help | Kentuckians For The Commonwealth

Mill Creek and Puncheon residents need your help

The folks on Mill Creek and surrounding areas of eastern Kentucky are once again fighting to protect their homes, water and health. Mill Creek is a small, close-knit community in Letcher County where much of the land has been passed down from generation to generation.

2012-07-01 11.40.31Jimmy Hall and Elaine Tanner have been fighting to protect their land and water for years. Jimmy has dealt with erosion, rock slides and mud slips, boulders, and water forming its own path where mining operations have altered the natural flow of the streams. Areas of this property were left with abandoned equipment spilling toxins on the ground, contaminating the surface water above his house.

Their neighbors, Chris and Connie Yonts, were led to believe their water was safe to drink. But they discovered the water coming out of their sink had turned reddish-orange and had a foul odor. A few days later Chris took a quart jar of this water and headed to town for a local county meeting. It took many more trips to town, a couple trips to Frankfort and a lot of calls before the Division of Water and Division of Mines and Minerals came to test the water.

The Division of Water’s report said toxic levels of metals and contaminants are in the water supply. But the second report issued by the Department of Mines and Minerals states the water is safe to use. The Yonts family intends to contest the conflicting reports with the Department of Mines at an upcoming permit conference.

KFTC member Eugene Mullins lives on Puncheon Creek in Knott County. Eugene and the residents of Puncheon are no strangers to impaired water. Many folks on Puncheon had their wells destroyed by previous mining and regularly see acid mine drainage seeping into the creek. Eugene, part of KFTC’s H2Organizing program, is protesting this permit to try and prevent more damage to the land and water of near his home.

In June of this year, Deane Mining filed for a new underground permit that will cover more than 6,000 acres located under the edges of Knott, Letcher, Pike and Floyd counties. This permit will cover areas like Mill Creek and Shelby Fork, where the waters are already mine-impacted. The residents of these areas feel that granting this permit would only make the well and surface water quality far worse.

2012-04-01 12.14.08

The permit conference is scheduled for 10 a.m. on Monday, August 20, at the Department of Mine Reclamation and Enforcement in Prestonsburg. Jimmy, Elaine, Chris, Connie, Eugene and other KFTC members are voicing their comments and objections on water issues, the ownership and control issues associated with the permitting process, and supporting the testimony of others who have been or could be affected by this permit. 

The permit conference is open to the public, and KFTC members are encouraged to attend and support these families.

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