WASHINGTON, D.C. — The largest coal producer in West Virginia has agreed to pay $27.5 million in civil penalties to the federal government and spend $200 million to comply with its discharge permits as part of the Clean Water Act.
The consent decree settles a complaint made by the federal EPA and state agencies against Alpha Natural Resources in West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia and Pennsylvania that it was discharging more from its mining operations into the water supply that it was allowed to do.
Investigators said that between 2006 and 2013 Alpha violated water pollution limits 6,000 times.
In its release announcing the settlement, Alpha said the complaint did not allege “the exceedances posed a risk to human health.”
Alpha has agreed to implement an environmental management system and install treatment facilities at specific locations.
“This consent decree provides a framework for our efforts to become fully compliant with our environmental permits, specifically under the Clean Water Act,” Alpha Senior Vice President of Environmental Affairs Gene Kitts said in Alpha’s prepared release. “Our combined total water quality compliance rate for 2013 was 99.8 percent. That’s a strong record of compliance, particularly considering it’s based on more than 665,000 chances to miss a daily or monthly average limit. But our goal is to do even better, and the consent decree provides an opportunity to proactively focus on improving on the less than 1 percent of the time that permit limits were exceeded.”
Alpha’s improvement plan will cover nearly 80 coal mines and two dozen coal prep plants in several states.
The $27.5 million fine will be split between the federal government and the states.