Arch Coal, one of the largest coal companies in the US, and 14 of its subsidiaries under the International Coal Group will pay a $2 million civil penalty and conduct comprehensive upgrades to their operations to ensure compliance with the Clean Water Act, under a settlement announced by the EPA and the US Department of Justice.
The settlement resolves hundreds of Clean Water Act violations related to illegal discharges of pollutants at the companies’ coal mines in Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia. The states of West Virginia, Virginia and Pennsylvania are co-plaintiffs in the settlement.
In addition to paying the penalty, under the proposed consent decree the companies must implement measures to ensure compliance and prevent future Clean Water Act violations, which the EPA says will help protect communities from pollution, including:
- Developing and implementing a compliance management system.
- Periodic internal and third-party environmental compliance audits.
- Maintaining a data management system to track violations, water sampling data and compliance efforts.
- Providing training for environmental managers and others responsible for the consent decree.
- Paying escalating stipulated penalties if violations continue to occur.
The government complaint filed concurrently with the settlement alleged that in the last six years, ICG operations have violated discharge limits for aluminum, manganese, iron and total suspended solids in their state-issued National Pollution Discharge Elimination System permits on more than 1,200 occasions, resulting in over 8,900 days of violations. Of those violations, 700 have been previously resolved by state enforcement actions in Kentucky and West Virginia.
The EPA discovered the violations through inspections of ICG facilities and projects, reviewing various information provided by the companies and coordinating with the affected state governments.
On Monday, major US coal supplier Alpha Natural Resources filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, just hours before the EPA announced its final version of the Clean Power Plan, which sets strict carbon emission limits for coal-fired power plants.