WASHINGTON — Alpha Natural Resources Inc., one of the nation’s largest coal companies, Alpha Appalachian Holdings (formerly Massey Energy) and 66 subsidiaries have agreed to spend an estimated $200 million to install and operate wastewater treatment systems and to implement comprehensive, system-wide upgrades to reduce discharges of pollution from coal mines in Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia, the Department of Justice and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced in a press release.
Overall, the settlement covers approximately 79 active mines and 25 processing plants in these five states, noted the release.
EPA estimates that the upgrades and advanced treatment required by the settlement will reduce discharges of total dissolved solids by over 36 million pounds each year, and will cut metals and other pollutants by approximately nine million pounds per year, reported the release.
The companies will also pay a civil penalty of $27.5 million for thousands of permit violations, continued the release, which is the largest penalty in history under Section 402 of the Clean Water Act (CWA).
“This settlement is the result of state and federal agencies working together to protect local communities from pollution by enforcing the law,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator of EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “By requiring reforms and a robust compliance program, we are helping to ensure coal mining in Appalachia follows environmental laws that protect public health.”
Read the full release here.