Citizen's Complaint Process

It is important to file a complaint with the DEP for every violation or suspected violation that you know of.  The following information details how to go through this process. 

1. Collect all available information: Get as much information as possible about the suspected violation.  
a. What is the nature of the violation?
b. Where is the violation located?  (county, nearest town, nearest streams)
c. Mining company and names or numbers of possible permits?
2. Call a complaint into the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection Division of Mining and Reclamation:  Call  (304) 926-0499 and state, “I would like to file a complaint with  the Division of Mining and Reclamation.”
a. *Do not call the Company* Request that the inspector not notify the company of your complaint until after the inspection as it may jeopardize the results of the inspection. 
b. Request that the inspector responding to your complaint contact you before going on site to investigate.
c. Ask for it to be documented in the complaint that you would like to exercise your right to accompany the inspector on his inspection even though a written letter might be required.
d. Be available by phone for the entire day of the complaint so the inspector can reach you with questions.
3. Evaluate DEP Inspection results and document all correspondence:  Keep a folder or note book with notes from phone calls and inspection results from DEP.
a. Document times of conversations with inspectors
b. Note the name and phone number of the inspectors you spoke with.
4. Ask for help with technical research from an independent party:  At this point in the process, once the DEP has already done its inspection and has likely come up with unsatisfactory results it is important to check their work and investigate the potential violation or violation independently.  Coal River Mountain Watch and the Sludge Safety Project have that capability of providing or assisting with technical research to check the DEP’s work.  Call 304-854-2182 if you need this sort of help.
5. Send a written request to the WVDEP for a Citizen’s Inspection:  If your request was not granted from your phone request, send a letter to the inspector that responded to your request asking to exercise your right to have a citizen’s inspection regarding your complaint.  If you wish to have anyone accompany you, include their names in the letter. 
Attn:  (Inspector)                                                        Attn: (Inspector)
WVDEP Oak Hill Regional Office                                       WVDEP Logan Regional Office
116 Industrial Drive                                                      1101 George Kostas Drive 
Oak Hill, WV 2590                                                         Logan, WV 25601
(304) 465-1911                                                           (304) 792-7250
6. If a Citizen’s Inspection request is denied, request a meeting with the inspector at the district office:  This is essential to gathering all the facts associated with the complaint.  At the district office it is often helpful to you for the inspector to describe the situation while looking over permit maps and photographs. This will allow you to ask tough relevant questions challenging the inspector’s findings.
7. Document your complaint experience and compile evidence:  It is important at this point to document the experience you had filing a complaint with the WVDEP.  At this time it is appropriate to write a brief summary of your complaint including any troubles you may have had with the agency and decided whether you are satisfied with the results of your complaint investigation.  
8. Submit an official complaint to the federal Office of Surface Mining Reclamation & Enforcement (OSMRE) and / or the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA):  It is important to notify the federal agencies of regulatory problems.  These agencies are responsible for ensuring proper enforcement of federal statutes.  Nearly all mining and water quality rules are federal statues enforced by the state.  The federal agencies have the power to intervene on state regulation when they feel it is not being enforced properly.  If you had any dissatisfaction with the performance of the DEP you should write them a letter with the words official complaint in the subject line.  
Roger Calhoun                                                  Samantha Beers
Field Office Director                                          Office of Enforcement, 
Office of Surface Mining                                    Compliance and Environmental Justice
Reclamation and Enforcement                             U.S. EPA Region 3  
1027 Virginia Street East                                   1650 Arch Street, Room 16-416 
Charleston , WV 25301                                      Philadelphia, PA 19103-2029
(304) 347-7158                                                (215) 814-2627.