Associated Press Published

Court Rules to Protect Documents on Mining Research

Woodburn Hall

The West Virginia Supreme Court has ruled documents by a former university researcher studying the effects of coal mining on public health don’t have to be made public after a coal company sued to have them disclosed.

The Charleston Gazette reports Alpha Natural Resources sued to try forcing West Virginia University to release thousands of documents by former professor Michael Hendryx related to academic journal articles he published.

His research suggests people living near mountaintop removal mines face increased risk of cancer, birth defects and premature death. Alpha was among the coal companies criticizing Hendryx’s work and wanted copies of correspondence between Hendryx, co-authors, and any outside organizations or scientists who peer-reviewed his work.

The court ruled documents the documents are protected from because they’re considered internal memoranda.

A spokesman for WVU said university officials were pleased with the outcome.