NAS Impoundment Study

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NAS Impoundment Study  Posted: May 12, 2001
Below is KRC's response to the invitation by the National Academy of Science to appear for a 15-minute presentation before the Coal Waste Impoundment panel. I appreciate all of the effort that OVEC and the West Virginia groups have made to demand some accountability. KRC will be submitting written comments to the panel calling for elimination of the use of embankment-type slurry impoundments as the standard method for disposing of coal processing fines and coarse refuse.

May 9, 2001

To: Tammy Dickinson, NAS Staff

Dear Ms. Dickinson:

I called today and left a message with your office declining the invitation to appear for a 15-minute presentation as part of the May 17, 2001 "environmental roundtable." Reluctantly, I decline to participate in person at the roundtable because the concerns that the Kentucky Resources Council and others have raised regarding the apparent lack of balance of perspectives in the composition of the panel and potential conflicts-of-interest, as well as lack of public access to the documentation developed by and in support of the study, remain largely unaddressed, as the NAS has apparently chosen to ignore rather than meaningfully responded to my letters of March 21, 23 and 27, April 4 and May 2.

I concur with your statement that "[t]he success of our report is contingent upon the participation of many people." It is unfortunate that those in charge of the study at the NAS did not subscribe to your position when determining the composition of the committee, when determining the manner in which the conflict policy was to be applied, and in the manner by which the committee has allocated time for public and private presentations. The lion's share of time allocated to non-governmental presenters during the study process appears to have been weighted towards industry and those who consult for industry, rather than public, labor and environmental perspectives.

Given the almost complete failure of the NAS to address the concerns raised in my correspondence, or to even accord the simple courtesy of an adequate and timely response to my concerns and those raised by others, I must decline to lend tacit support to the manner in which the study process has been structured and managed by participating on a panel.

In order to assure that the written record reflects my concerns, I will submit written comments for the record.


Tom FitzGerald Director Kentucky Resources Council, Inc.

Below is reprinted a May 2, 2001 letter; the most recent one to which I have as yet received no response.

May 2, 2001

To: Bruce Alberts, President, National Academies Robert Hamilton, National Research Council E. William Colglazier, PhD, EO, National Academies

From: Tom FitzGerald, Director, Kentucky Resources Council, Inc.

Re: NAS Coal Waste Impoundment Study


It has been almost a month since my April 4, 2001 letter regarding the composition of the Committee studying coal waste impoundment failures and breakthroughs, in which I requested that you address the remaining unresolved issues that I had raised in March 21, March 23 and March 27, 2001 letters, and which Administrator Joseph Main of the Department of Occupational Health and Safety of the United Mine Workers of America underscored in his letter of April 26, 2001. The remaining unresolved issues are these:

* The potential conflicts-of-interest of committee members that actively consult with coal companies on coal waste disposal issues or have active coal clients;

* The heavy weighting of study committee members with individuals who approach the issue from the perspective of current or former consultants to the regulated community, and the failure to achieve the "reasonably balanced" points of view to which the NAS/NRC purportedly strives to achieve, and which Congress directed;

* The need for public access to all significant documents related to the committee study through posting on the website a complete administrative record of the proceedings of the study committee, including:

*Advance adequate notice of all committee and subcommittee meetings, * Names and contact information for all committee and subcommittee members,

*Minutes of all committee and subcommittee meetings,

*Copies of any written testimony and other documents provided to the committee from the public and interested parties.

To date, in response to our letters, we received a single reply from Dr. Colglazier which was non-responsive to almost all of our concerns, and addressed conflicts regarding only two members of the committee but did not address the conflicts issue as it applies to other committee members with apparently active coal clientele. I believe we are entitled to a timely and complete response as to how your organization has addressed or will address these concerns, or whether you simply have chosen to move forward without resolving these matters, the lack of resolution of which cast a shadow over both the process and product of this committee.

By Kentucky Resources Council on 05/12/2001 5:32 PM
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