Water contamination trial starts
by John Conley, originally posted on April 19, 2016
A water contamination trial started in Wyoming County Circuit Court in Pineville last week.
Sixteen families in the Coal Mountain area allege that their well water was impacted by mining activities conducted by Dynamic Energy, Inc., and its parent company, Mechel Bluestone.
Jury selection began last Monday and continued on Tuesday. Dozens were considered for the six jurors and two alternates.
Dr. Yoram Eckstein, a hydrogeologist and professor at Kent State, testified at length last Wednesday on behalf of the plaintiffs and said tests conducted on the water showed it was unsafe.
DEP Environmental Specialist Dustin Johnson and Tracy Steele, a former Dynamic Energy employee, also gave testimony.
One of the plaintiffs, Teddy Trent, told the court about the gradual degradation in water quality his family experienced.
Trent said the water was “great” years ago but “got worse and worse” as the years went by.
He testified that he first had to use one filter on the water and later had to use two.
The water had an odor, Trent reported. “It smelled like rotten eggs,” he said.
After he started using a second filter, he said, “the smell wasn’t quite as bad.”
A mason jar filled with orange-brown liquid was entered as an exhibit and was a recent sample of water at the Trent property.
“Do any of you want to drink that?” Trent asked the jurors.
He described the water as “terrible” and said he didn’t drink it.
Trent said the water was hard on appliances and that he had replaced the dishwasher, replaced the washing maching three times and also had to replace water lines.
He estimated the replacement costs at $1,600.
“I want good water,” Trent stated. “I had good water to start with.”
The trial continues this week.
Citing the West Virginia Surface Mining Act, the plaintiffs asked two years ago for Dynamic Energy to be required to provide emergency water.
Circuit Judge Warren R. McGraw ordered the company to provide fresh water to the families in late 2014. After families complained that they did not receive water consistently, another hearing on the matter was held in July 2015.