River in jeopardy as Durham coal mines close

The river Wear could suffer catastrophic pollution within months if British Coal turns off pumps draining groundwaters from the Durham coalfield, a study commissioned by the National Rivers Authority (NRA) has concluded. The prospect of legal proceedings to test the legal responsibilities of mine owners for pollution from abandoned mines drew closer at the end of August when British Coal announced that it had failed to sell off two pits in the area.

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