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Sierra Club v. Abston Constr. Co.

Citation: 10 ELR 20552
No. No. 77-2530, 620 F.2d 41/14 ERC 1984/(5th Cir., 06/23/1980)

In a citizen suit brought under the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, reversing the trial court's award of summary judgment to appellees, rules that runoff and leachate emanating from appellees' strip mining operations may constitute "point source" pollution within the meaning of § 502(14) of the Act and thus may be an illegal discharge under § 301 of the Act. Although natural surface runoff does not constitute a point source, a point source may exist where miners have dug pits and built spoil piles that cause discharges into navigable waters through ditches, gullies, and similar discrete conveyances. There is no merit to appellees' contention that the Act applies only to intentional discharges of pollutants. The court reverses the award of summary judgment and remands to the lower court for resolution of the factual issue of whether the mining operations in question constitute point sources.

Counsel for Appellant
Edward Still
Suite 400, 2027 First Ave. N, Birmingham AL 35203
(205) 322-6631

Counsel for Appellees
John E. Grenier
Lange, Simpson, Robinson & Somerville
1700 First Alabama Bank Bldg., 417 N. 20th St., Birmingham AL 35203
(205) 525-7000

Olin Zeanah
Zeanah, Donald & Hust
P.O. Box 2490, Tuscaloosa AL 35401
(205) 349-1383

Counsel for Amicus Curiae Save Our Cumberland Mountains, Inc.
John Philip Williams
P.O. Box 436, Jacksboro TN 37757
(615) 562-3396

Counsel for Amicus Curiae United States
Michael A. McCord
Land and Natural Resources Division
Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 633-2774

Counsel for Intervenor-Appellant State of Alabama
William Baxley, Attorney General; James Cooper Jr., H. H. Caddell, Ass't Attorneys General
State Capitol, Montgomery AL 36104
(205) 834-5150

Before GODBOLD, RONEY and FRANK M. JOHNSON. Jr., Circuit Judges.