Triad Mining Agrees to Resolve Clean Water Act Violations and Restore Affected Waterways in Indiana

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that Triad Mining Inc., the owner and operator of 31 surface mines in Appalachia and Indiana, has agreed to pay a penalty and restore affected waterways for failing to obtain the required Clean Water Act (CWA) permit for stream impacts caused by its surface mining operation in Indiana. Since 2002, Triad's mining operation has resulted in the unpermitted excavation and filling of more than 53,000 feet of streams that flow into the White River.

“Protecting America’s waters is one of EPA’s top priorities,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “Today’s settlement will ensure that waterways impacted by unpermitted mining operations are restored and can again benefit the state of Indiana and the surrounding communities.”

“With this settlement, Triad will achieve compliance with the nation’s Clean Water Act and be held accountable for its unpermitted discharges into streams of the White River watershed,” said Ignacia S. Moreno, assistant attorney general for the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the Department of Justice. “Triad must also undertake restoration efforts and mitigate impacts from its mining activities by enhancing stream beds and creating buffer areas that will benefit aquatic life and recreational resources for the people of Indiana.”

Triad, a subsidiary of James River Coal Company, obtained the required Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act permits from the state of Indiana for its mining operations, but never obtained the required CWA permit for the site, despite the fact that its surface mining operation involved excavating coal seams located directly below stream beds.
 
On March 24, 2008, the Army Corps of Engineers issued a cease and desist order requiring Triad to stop its unauthorized stream-filling activities. Triad continued its mining practices until the Army Corps of Engineers sent a second order on June 24, 2009, which Triad complied with. Since the second order was issued, Triad has continued mining, but has avoided additional impacts to streams.

Under the settlement, Triad must restore 34,906 linear feet of streams and enhance 4,330 linear feet of stream bed to address and mitigate impacts to stream beds caused by its mining activities. Triad will also create and maintain 66 acres of forested buffer areas and nine acres of forested wetland to protect the restored streams. Triad will also pay a $810,171 civil penalty. 

The proposed settlement, lodged in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, is subject to a 30-day comment period and final court approval.

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