Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Department of Mines Pinned by Goals in Strip Mining Dispute / 300 Jobs at Stake

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Department of Mines Pinned by Goals in Strip Mining Dispute / 300 Jobs at Stake

Article excerpt

CLAREMORE, Okla. (AP) - An attempt by two dozen Rogers County residents to prevent strip mining in the eastern Oklahoma county by Turner Brothers Inc. has the Oklahoma Department of Mines trying to balance two of its goals: promoting coal mining and protecting citizens, officials say.

Turner Brothers of Muskogee hopes to strip mine 3,040 acres five miles north of Claremore. The state Department of Mines issued a permit for the mining operation Feb. 21, over the objections of Rogers County residents.

The residents claim that past mining activities in the area by Turner have damaged their homes and property. Several residents have filed lawsuits against Turner, claiming damages from dynamite blasts the firm uses in its operations.

Mines Director Gayle Townley said residents have been granted an appeal hearing April 9 at department offices in Oklahoma City on the permit granted Turner Brothers.

At stake in the dispute are 300 jobs, $800,000 in annual wages and 3.5 million tons of coal - 200,000 tons more than was mined in the entire state in 1985.

The mined coal would bring in $8.5 million in royalties to landowners and another $3.2 million in state and federal taxes. It also would inject $4 million into a local economy hurt by the slumping agricultural and energy industries, Turner officials say.

However, residents say the mining will cause an environmental nightmare for Rogers County, and cite Turner's past record as evidence.

The company has been assessed more than $130,000 in federal fines and more than $1 million in state fines for failure to reclaim strip-mined land and other pollution violations. It filed for protection from creditors while it reorganizes under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code in February 1985.

Townley said all fines, penalties and lawsuits are held in abeyance pending the outcome of the bankruptcy proceedings.

Meanwhile, Turner has begun digging coal at another mining site in Rogers County under an agreement with Transwestern Mining Co. …

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