LaBELLE (KDKA) — Residents of a Fayette County town are taking the owner of a coal waste dump to court. They say the site is polluting their streams and their air.
“Your eyes burn, your nose burns. You start coughing, choking,” said Gary Kuklish, a retired coal miner.
Kuklish has a lovely yard and home in rural LaBelle, Fayette County.
But he says it’s been spoiled by its close proximity to a 500-acre coal waste disposal site operated by the Canestrale Construction Company.
“You see dust clouds. You see particulate floating in this air,” said Kuklish.
On Wednesday, Kuklish and about 50 other residents sued Canestrale saying the coal ash dump has polluted nearby streams and routinely covers their yards and homes with ash.
“Your furniture becomes embedded. You have to mop your porch every single day,” Kuklish added.
This past year, KDKA showed you how coal waste is offloaded from barges on the Mon River and trucked up the hill to the massive dump. It’s the site of an abandoned coal mine. Those trucks lack tarps or any measures to contain the waste.
In addition to airborne waste, the suit alleges that runoff from the site contains heavy metal such as iron, manganese and sulfate that have destroyed aquatic life for recreational fisherman like Pete Redman.
“No minnows. What happened to them? They didn’t disappear themselves,” he said.
William Gorton, the attorney for Canestrale, could not be reached but has said that the disposal site is in full compliance with environmental regulations.
But residents are especially concerned about a proposal from the First Energy Corporation to dump an additional three million tons of coal waste from the Bruce Mansfield Plant in Beaver County at the Canestrale site.
“Have this site cleaned up or shut down because there’s just too many people here in jeopardy,” said Kuklish.