Environmental Protection

Arch Coal Agrees to $4M Settlement, Compliance Measures

The federal government, Virginia, West Virginia, and Kentucky alleged that the coal company violated its discharge permit, sending excess amounts of iron, total suspended solids, and manganese into streams.

Arch Coal Inc., the second largest supplier of coal in the United States, has agreed to pay a $4 million penalty to settle alleged violations of the Clean Water Act (CWA) in Virginia, West Virginia, and Kentucky, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Justice announced on March 1.

Under the settlement, Arch Coal will implement changes to its mining operations in the affected states to ensure CWA compliance.

As part of the settlement, Arch Coal has agreed to take measures that will prevent an estimated two million pounds of pollution from entering the nation’s waters each year. Arch will also implement a treatment system to reduce discharges of selenium, a pollutant found in mine discharges.

A joint federal-state complaint filed in U.S. District Court in the Southern District of West Virginia alleged numerous violations of the company’s permits that set limits on pollutants to be discharged into streams. The alleged excess discharges of iron, total suspended solids, manganese, and other pollutants reflect deficiencies in operation and maintenance of wastewater treatment systems in place at four of the company’s mining facilities: Coal Mac Inc; Lone Mountain Processing Inc; Cumberland River Coal Co.; and Mingo Logan Coal Co.

As part of the settlement, the company has agreed to implement a series of inspections, audits, and tracking measures to ensure treatment systems are working properly and that future compliance is achieved. The company is required to develop and implement a compliance management system to help foster a top-down, compliance, and prevention-focused approach to CWA issues.

Under the settlement, $2 million of the $4 million civil penalty will be paid to the United States and the remaining $2 million will be divided between West Virginia and Kentucky based on the percentage of alleged violations in each state.

The consent decree, which is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval, is available at www.justice.gov/enrd/.

Source: U.S. Department of Justice

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