CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — West Virginia Governor Jim Justice and his family are once again facing legal troubles from one of the businesses in their vast empire. This time it is a company known as Bluestone Coke, located in Birmingham, Alabama.
The Jefferson County Alabama Board of Health has filed two lawsuits alleging that emissions from the plant are leading to air regulation violations. It all began with complaints from the plant’s neighbors.
“My asthma is kicking in more. I have to be on my breathing machine every night now… It just woke me up out of my sleep, because I couldn’t catch my breath due to the smell,” said Amanda Doctor, who lives near Bluestone Coke.
Other neighbors say soot from the plant covers their vehicles, and worry about other potential damage.
“I don’t know what I’m breathing. All that contamination over there. It’s just a lot of stuff man,” said Eric Herrod, who lives near Bluestone Coke.
CBS 42 launched an investigation and reported that the company doesn’t have a business license. Today our sister station WOWK followed up with Justice.
He acknowledged the plant has had a troubled history but says it started well before his family bought it.
“For all practical purposes bankrupt two different times prior to us getting it. And with all of that and everything, on top of that it is very, very, very, very, very old,” said Gov. Jim Justice, (R) West Virginia.
Since he became governor, his son Jay Justice became president and CEO of the more than 100 family businesses. Still, the governor promises problems will be resolved.
“There’s a tremendous amount of this that I don’t have any idea about, you know. But with all that, my family will do the right stuff. That’s all there is to it. We’ll do the right stuff,” said Governor Justice.
An environmental group in Birmingham known as GASP has also joined one of the lawsuits. But right now Bluestone Coke has halted production until at least April of 2022.
Governor Jim Justice says his full-time job is to manage the state of West Virginia. And as with other legal problems his companies have faced before this one, there will be efforts toward a resolution.