Bluestone Coke sued for violating the federal Clean Water Act

Bluestone Coke has permit to discharge wastewater into Five Mile Creek

Black Warrior Riverkeeper and GASP, represented by the Southern Environmental Law Center, have filed a lawsuit against Bluestone Coke for allegedly violating the federal Clean Water Act.

Bluestone Coke has a permit to discharge wastewater into Five Mile Creek, which flows into the Locust Fork of the Black Warrior River. The plant, which is owned by the family of West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice, is currently not operating, but allegedly is still discharging pollutants, including barium, strontium and E. coli, according to a release from the Southern Environmental Law Center.

“We gave Bluestone Coke 60 days to stop their illegal actions,” said Sarah Stokes, senior attorney for the Southern Environmental Law Center. “Because they refuse to keep polluted water from flowing off the property, filing suit is a necessary next step at this point.”

The Jefferson County Department of Health also cited Bluestone for violating its air permit by leaking hazardous emissions from coke ovens at the plant. In December 2022, GASP, SELC, Bluestone and Jefferson County Department of Health agreed to a consent decree ordering Bluestone to pay a $925,000 penalty to the Department of Health — the largest fine issued in the agency’s 105-year history. However, in May, Bluestone failed to pay more than $283,000 of these fines to the health department and is currently accruing penalties for each day the fine is late, according to the release from the Southern Environmental Law Center.

The plant is near the predominantly Black neighborhoods of Harriman Park, Fairmont and Collegeville and is in the heart of Birmingham’s 35th Avenue Superfund site, where the Environmental Protection Agency has remediated more than 650 residential properties due to dangerous levels of industrial pollution in the soil.

- Sponsor -

Bluestone Coke is the producer of metallurgical coke, which is used in the iron and steel industry processes.

Black Warrior Riverkeeper is a nonprofit water advocacy organization whose mission is to protect and restore the Black Warrior River and its tributaries.

GASP is a nonprofit health advocacy organization based in Birmingham.

Southern Environmental Law Center is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization headquartered in Charlottesville, Virginia, and has offices in Birmingham, Alabama; Atlanta, Georgia; Asheville and Chapel Hill, North Carolina; Charleston, South Carolina; Nashville, Tennessee; Richmond, Virginia; and Washington, D.C.

The latest Alabama business news delivered to your inbox