Three coal companies in the US were charged with allegations of contaminating West Virginia waterways by several environmental groups of the state.

Alex Energy and Fola Coal are both accused of polluting the water in tributaries of Twentymile Creek with harmful chemicals such as sulfate, while Kentucky-based Consol is accused of releasing illegal quantities of selenium in the nearby streams from its Peg Fork mine.

Environmental groups Sierra Club, West Virginia Highlands Conservancy and Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition have filed federal cases against each of the three companies, reported San Fransisco Chronicle.

The federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is, however, mulling over increasing the threshold quantity of selenium in lakes and streams that could render the group’s actions nullified.

A bill currently in the state legislature is also on similar lines as well as making the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) liable to conduct study to determine acceptable quantities of selenium.

West Virginia Sierra Club chapter chairman Joe Sconyers remarked, "Rather than forcing the mining companies to clean up the impaired streams, WVDEP is trying to redefine the meaning of impairment administratively so that it no longer exists while the EPA is taking a ‘cross your fingers and hope’ approach to mining pollution.

"So groups like ours have to do WVDEP’s job. We can’t allow these companies to keep poisoning our streams," added Sconyers.

ConsolEnergy spokesperson Lynn Seay sought to stay clear of the impending legal proceedings, instead he said, "CONSOL Energy strives to be a good corporate citizen in the communities where we operate, and as such, we strive to comply with all of our regulatory, contractual and other legal obligations."