A proposed coal mine is poised to ruin the health, environment, and drinking water in Birmingham, Alabama. The Shepherd Bend Mine would discharge pollutants into the Black Warrior River, just 800 feet from a major drinking water intake for 200,000 people (see photo). Residents are worried that this mine will ruin the water supply, create dangerous chemical runoff, spew pollutants into the air, and decrease property values.
Not only are residents' health and livelihoods at risk, they may be forced to carry the mine's financial burden: The Birmingham Water Works Board warns that this mine could necessitate added filtration, a cost that would be passed on to residents.
As an Alabama resident and student at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), I know that this mine will negatively impact Birmingham's water, its residents, and the environment. That's why I'm asking the University of Alabama Board of Trustees not to sell or lease university-owned land to the Sheperd Bend mining company.
Sheperd Bend's wastewater discharge permit is in violation of federal and state law, allowing 10 times the level of iron and 40 times the level of manganese recommended by the Safe Drinking Water Act. The Black Warrior River watershed is a major resource in Alabama, providing homes to more than one million residents and supplying drinking water for Jasper, Cullman, Oneonta, Tuscaloosa, and half of Birmingham.
The Black Warrior River is already on the list of America's Most Endangered Rivers. The 1,773 acre mining site would discharge approximately 3,187 tons of sediment into downstream wetlands, exposing the area to dangerous levels of pollution.
The majority of the proposed mining site and its mineral rights are owned by the University of Alabama school system. If the UA Board of Trustees decided against leasing or selling the land for the mine, the project would no longer be economically feasible for the Shepherd Bend mining company, and the company would likely abandon the plan.
Several notable people have voiced their opposition to this mine, including Alabama college students, alumni, local conservation organizations, and the Birmingham City Council. University of Alabama alum Dr. Willy Rice went so far as to pledge to leave his seven-figure estate to the University of Alabama if they demonstrate good stewardship and protect Alabama’s gem river. However, despite so much opposition, the administration only remains silent.
Please join me in urging the University of Alabama president, Dr. Witt, and the Board of Trustees to take a stand. Sign this petition, and urge officials to make a public statement that they will neither sell nor lease university land for the Shepherd Bend Mine.