A hearing to stop a strip mine operation may take until the end of the week.
The Birmingham Water Works Board is fighting efforts by the Shepherd Bend Coal Mine company from building a mine. The utility believes the strip mine work will contaminate their source of drinking water for some 200,000 customers in western Jefferson County.
Today, Administrative Law Judge Charles Stephens held a hearing during which attorneys for the water board tried to show there would be a threat. Krista Marks with the Alabama Surface Mining Commission testified she did not believe the mining operations would hurt the water supply.
Despite Marks' testimony, the head of the utility believes the strip mine company could lead to chemicals such as arsenic and other chemicals affecting the water the board draws from the Mulberry Fork intake.
"We are trying to prevent this from going forward at this time. We feel its going to have some negative impact on our ability to treat water for our customers," Mac Underwood, General Manager for the Birmingham Water Works Board, said.
The hearing may last until the end of the week. Underwood says the utility may go to circuit court if the administrative law judge rules against them.
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