Group asks for 30-day extension for public comments
by James Phillips
Aug 10, 2012 | 2314 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Several protesters, which included many students from the University of Alabama and UAB, were on hand before Thursday’s public conference hosted by the Alabama Surface Mining Commission.
Several protesters, which included many students from the University of Alabama and UAB, were on hand before Thursday’s public conference hosted by the Alabama Surface Mining Commission.
SUMITON — Gerald Hallman, a resident of the Dovertown community near Cordova, said Thursday that 20 jobs aren’t worth destroying a community.

“I live in Dovertown. This is my home, and I love it,” he said. “When I face my maker, I can say that I tried to protect my land, family and community. I think he will be satisfied with that. I don’t know if strip mining companies can say that.”

Hall was speaking during an informal public conference concerning the possible Reed Mineral No. 5 Mine held Thursday night by the Alabama Surface Mining Commission at Bevill State Community College’s Sumiton campus. The proposed mine would be located on the Mulberry Fork of the Black Warrior River.

The mine could bring 20 jobs to the area and the City of Cordova could earn as much as $4 million from an 8-percent royalty on coal extracted from the mine. Hallman said those positives don’t outweigh the negatives associated with the mine.

“There are 97 dwellings just in Dovertown. Twenty jobs ain’t worth it to destroy that many houses and uproot that many people,” he said. “If a Jack’s came to Cordova it would create more than 20 jobs.”

The number of jobs the mine would bring was a point of contention for several citizens who shared comments Thursday.

“There will be no new jobs,” said Randy Palmer, leader of the group, Citizens Opposed to Surface Mining on the Warrior River. “These jobs will be relocated from another mine. Old equipment will be moved from another mine. This mine will create no new demand contrary to what is out there. There will be no more demand for supplies, equipment or labor.”

Nelson Brooke, with the Black Warrior Riverkeeper, asked the ASMC to extend public comments concerning the mine because key components of the Reed Mineral No. 5 permit were not available for viewing online.

“The application has an issue because of the lack of required information,” Brooke said. “We’re asking that public comments be extended another 30 days once that information is available.”

Todd Hyche, a Cordova resident, said he requested the cancellation of Thursday’s public conference due to records about the mine not being available on the Alabama Surface Mining Commission’s website.

“The public’s ability to be informed has been seriously compromised, because critical parts of the application were not available for viewing,” Hyche said.

Mike Sargent, a lifelong Dovertown resident, said he wasn’t interested in a 30-day extension on public comments.

“I want you to say no to this mine,” Sargent said. “I want you to deny the permit.”

The proposed mine would be five miles upstream from the intake of the Birmingham Water Works Western Filtration Plant, which services much of the greater Birmingham area, including Jasper. Several students from the University of Alabama and UAB spoke to the dangers of the mine being located near the intake.

Lecil Stacks, a Dovertown resident and more than 40-year member of the United Mine Workers of America, said he opposed the mine.

“We’re not against mining coal,” he said. “Walker County was build on mining, but there doesn’t need to be mining that close to the river.”

While many Cordova officials have said they are proponents of the mine, one Cordova City Council member spoke Thursday against the mine.

Tina Woods, council member for District 7, said she lives on the river a few miles from Dovertown.

“We are our river’s keeper,” she said. “Where I live, I have a wonderful view, and it’s beautiful. We need to keep it that way.”

No one spoke Thursday as a proponent for the Reed Mineral No. 5 Mine.

Randall Johnson, director of the Alabama Surface Mining Commission, spoke before Thursday’s conference and said the event was designed to take public comments on the matter. He said those comments would be recorded and used in determining if the permit for the mine should be issued, denied or modified.

Johnson said a decision on the application must be determined within 30 days.