Coal Company Settles Clean Water Act Case

The measures Consol Energy and related companies agreed to will continue to reduce total dissolved solids in mining waters discharged to streams; EPA estimates implementation of the consent decree by Consol will eliminate more than 2.5 million pounds of pollutants in the form of TDS.

Consol Energy Inc., CNX Coal Resources, and Consol Pennsylvania Coal Co. LLC have agreed to implement water management and monitoring activities to prevent contaminated discharges of mining wastewater from the Bailey Mine Complex in Greene and Washington Counties, Pennsylvania, to the Ohio River and its tributaries, in settling a case with the U.S. Department of Justice, EPA, and the state of Pennsylvania, they announced Aug. 4.

A consent decree filed in federal court in Pittsburgh also commits the companies to conduct regular long-term-monitoring to ensure sufficient storage capacity to prevent future discharges, develop contingency plans should future discharges become likely, and implement an environmental management system to ensure compliance with the Clean Water Act and other applicable environmental laws. And Consol will pay a $3 million civil penalty for Clean Water Act violations.

"We will continue to vigorously protect our district's waterways and other vital natural resources," said David J. Hickton, U.S. attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania. "Today's settlement ensures that our rivers remain safe for future generations to use and enjoy."

"Mining operations that discharge to our rivers, lakes, and streams have an obligation to comply with our nation’s laws that protect those water bodies, as well as public health," added EPA Regional Administrator Shawn M. Garvin. "The actions required by today's settlement represent a major step forward in protecting local waterways and the health of communities."

The companies have agreed to submit and implement a plan for achieving long-term compliance through advanced treatment in the event of projected exhaustion of storage capacity and to implement an environmental management system to ensure compliance. The measures they have agreed to will continue to reduce total dissolved solids in mining waters discharged to streams; EPA estimates implementation of the consent decree by Consol will eliminate more than 2.5 million pounds of pollutants in the form of TDS.

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

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