Pick Your Community: | Hopkins | Muhlenberg | Daviess | Christian | Henderson | Lakes | McCracken | Webster
Davis Motor Sales banner ad

Alpha Natural Resources to Spend $200 Million for Clean-up

coal mines 300WASHINGTON (3/6/14) — Five states, including Kentucky will benefit from the upgrades.

Alpha Natural Resources, Inc., one of the nation's largest coal companies, Alpha Appalachian Holdings (formerly Massey Energy), and 66 subsidiaries have agreed to spend an estimated $200 million to install and operate wastewater treatment systems and to implement comprehensive, system-wide upgrades to reduce discharges of pollution from coal mines in Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia, the Department of Justice and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced March 5.

Overall, the settlement covers approximately 79 active mines and 25 processing plants in these five states.

EPA estimates that the upgrades and advanced treatment required by the settlement will reduce discharges of total dissolved solids by over 36 million pounds each year, and will cut metals and other pollutants by approximately nine million pounds per year.

The companies will also pay a civil penalty of $27.5 million for thousands of permit violations, which is the largest penalty in history under Section 402 of the Clean Water Act.

"This settlement is the result of state and federal agencies working together to protect local communities from pollution by enforcing the law," said Cynthia Giles, Assistant Administrator of EPA's Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. "By requiring reforms and a robust compliance program, we are helping to ensure coal mining in Appalachia follows environmental laws that protect public health."

"The unprecedented size of the civil penalty in this settlement sends a strong deterrent message to others in this industry that such egregious violations of the nation's Clean Water Act will not be tolerated," said Robert G. Dreher, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division. "Today's agreement is good news for communities across Appalachia, who have too often been vulnerable to polluters who disregard the law. It holds Alpha accountable and will bring increased compliance and transparency among Alpha and its many subsidiaries."

In addition to paying the penalty, the companies must build and operate treatment systems to eliminate violations of selenium and salinity limits, and also implement comprehensive, system-wide improvements to ensure future compliance with the CWA.

Monitoring records also showed that multiple pollutants were discharged in amounts of more than twice the permitted limit on many occasions.

These improvements, which apply to all of Alpha's operations in Appalachia, include developing and implementing an environmental management system and periodic internal and third-party environmental compliance audits.

The companies must also maintain a database to track violations and compliance efforts at each outfall, significantly improve the timeliness of responding to violations, and consult with third party experts to solve problem discharges. In the event of future violations, the companies will be required to pay stipulated penalties, which may be increased and, in some cases, doubled for continuing violations.

The government complaint alleged that, between 2006 and 2013, Alpha and its subsidiaries routinely violated limits in 336 of its state-issued CWA permits, resulting in the discharge of excess amounts of pollutants into hundreds of rivers and streams in Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia.

The violations also included discharge of pollutants without a permit.

In total, EPA documented at least 6,289 violations of permit limits for pollutants that include iron, pH, total suspended solids, aluminum, manganese, selenium, and salinity.

These violations occurred at 794 different discharge points, or outfalls. Monitoring records also showed that multiple pollutants were discharged in amounts of more than twice the permitted limit on many occasions. Most violations stemmed from the company's failure to properly operate existing treatment systems, install adequate treatment systems, and implement appropriate water handling and management plans.

Today's settlement also resolves violations of a prior 2008 settlement with Massey Energy, and applies to the facilities and sites formerly owned by the company.

Under the 2008 settlement, Massey paid a $20 million penalty to the federal government for similar CWA violations, in addition to over a million dollars in stipulated penalties over the course of the next two years. Alpha purchased Massey in June 2011 and, since taking over the company, has been working cooperatively with the government in developing the terms of today's settlement.

CWA permits allow for the discharge of certain pollutants in limited amounts to rivers, streams, and other water bodies. Permit holders are required to monitor discharges regularly and report results to the respective state agencies.

Alpha, headquartered in Bristol, Va., is one of the largest coal companies in the nation.

Alpha operates more than 79 active coal mines and 25 coal preparation plants located throughout Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wyoming. The Wyoming operations are not included in today's settlement.

The States of West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Kentucky are co-plaintiffs in today's settlement.

The U.S. will receive half of the civil penalty and the other half will be divided between the co-plaintiffs based on the number of violations in each state, as follows: West Virginia ($8,937,500), Pennsylvania ($4,125,000), and Kentucky ($687,500).

The consent decree, lodged in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia, is subject to a 30-day public comment period and approval by the federal court.

SurfKY News
Information provided by Environmental Protection Agency

© Copyright 2014 SurfKY News Group, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, or rewritten without permission. SurfKY News encourages you to share this story by using one of the social media links below.

In Other News...

BMS Academic Team

BENTON, Ky. (9/30/14) — Benton Middle School selected their academic team for the 2014-2015 school year. Members are… Read More

Murray-Calloway County Hospital Hosting Events in October

MURRAY, Ky. (9/30/14) — Staff at Murray-Calloway County Hospital and the Center for Health & Wellness will be offering… Read More

Most Read This Week (Site-Wide)

September 26, 2014 5797

Super Walmart Headed to Hanson, Fate of…

in Top Stories by Amber Averitt, SurfKY News
September 27, 2014 3673

Hopkins County Grand Jury Misdemeanor Indictments

in News by Karen McKnight
September 29, 2014 3286

Endless Road Strings Bring Orchestra Mix to…

in Top Stories by Paul McRee, SurfKY News
September 26, 2014 3268

Drug Sting Results in Meth Trafficking Charge

in Top Stories by Madisonville Police Department
September 27, 2014 2590

Sinister on Center Takes Haunted Manor to Whole…

in Top Stories by Charles W. Riley II, SurfKY News
September 26, 2014 2529

UPDATE: Semi Trucks Crash, Block Northbound Lane…

in Top Stories by Keith Todd
September 26, 2014 2525

Muhlenberg Job Corps Recognizes Employee of the…

in Top Stories by Karen Robinson
September 26, 2014 2398

Muhlenberg 911 Service Recipient of $32,500 Grant

in Top Stories by Rebecca Hanchett
September 26, 2014 2395

Madisonville Police Department Arrest Reports -…

in News by Madisonville Police Department
September 29, 2014 2328

One Injured in Single-Vehicle Collision on…

in Top Stories by Rita Dukes Smith, SurfKY News Director
September 29, 2014 2259

Man, Woman Charged with Violating EPO Against…

in Top Stories by Madisonville Police Department

Most Read Stories from Hopkins County

September 26, 2014 3268

Drug Sting Results in Meth Trafficking…

in Top Stories by Madisonville Police Department
September 29, 2014 2328

One Injured in Single-Vehicle Collision…

in Top Stories by Rita Dukes Smith, SurfKY News Director
September 29, 2014 2259

Man, Woman Charged with Violating EPO…

in Top Stories by Madisonville Police Department
September 25, 2014 2231

Shoplifting Complaint Leads to Resisting…

in Top Stories by Information provided by MPD
September 29, 2014 2006

Man Charged with PI, Drugs, After…

in Top Stories by Madisonville Police Department

Most Read Stories from Muhlenberg County

September 29, 2014 3286

Endless Road Strings Bring Orchestra Mix…

in Top Stories by Paul McRee, SurfKY News
September 26, 2014 2525

Muhlenberg Job Corps Recognizes Employee…

in Top Stories by Karen Robinson
September 26, 2014 2398

Muhlenberg 911 Service Recipient of…

in Top Stories by Rebecca Hanchett
September 28, 2014 1961

Community Shows Support to Muhlenberg…

in Top Stories by Charles W. Riley II, SurfKY News
September 28, 2014 1742

Marching Mustangs Take Third in Ohio…

in Top Stories by Information provided by Shawna Hendrix

SurfKY News Group, Inc. Central Office & Printing Division
1125 Nebo Rd.  •  Madisonville, KY 42431  •  270.452.2249 (fax)
Main Number: 270.452.2727 (phone)  •  Printing Division Direct Line: 270.821.8600 (phone)


Contact a member of our staff: www.surfky.com/contact
Copyright © 2014 SurfKY News Group, Inc.  •  Terms of Use  •  Site Map

social 03social 04social 22social 21social 06