The Virginia Air Pollution Control Board voted unanimously to take immediate steps to deal with coal dust in Roda, which is surrounded on three sides by nine mountaintop removal coal mines.
Hundreds of coal trucks travel through Roda each day from the mountaintop removal mining sites. The trucks release coal dust from their bodies and beds, and track mud onto the road which dries and is kicked up by other trucks.
Last fall, the Sierra Club and Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards installed air monitoring equipment in front of houses on Roda near the coal truck highway. The air monitoring devices outside Willis’s and Campbell’s houses consistently showed dust levels well above the level regarded as safe for human health by the U.S. EPA, with one reading more than three times that level. Additional chemical analysis of dust samples collected by the air monitors revealed the presence of toxic heavy metals associated with coal.
Every house in the small mountain community is coated with black coal dust—inside and outside, according to Sierra Club attorney Aaron Isherwood.
The Air Pollution Control Board’s unanimous vote directs the Department of Environmental Quality to take immediate action to reduce dust loads in Roda immediately, including truck washing, rumble strips, speed enforcement, and road improvements.
They must also undertake a regional analysis to assess the extent of the coal dust problem in communities similarly situated in proximity to coal mines and impacted by coal trucks.