Arch Coal, Inc. and International Coal Group Subsidiaries Settlement
(Washington, DC - August 6, 2015) EPA and the U.S. Department of Justice the announced today that Arch Coal Inc., one of the nation’s largest coal companies, and 14 of its subsidiaries under the International Coal Group Inc. have agreed to conduct comprehensive upgrades to their operations to ensure compliance with the Clean Water Act. 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 state of West Virginia and the Commonwealths of Virginia and Pennsylvania are co-plaintiffs in today’s settlement. The companies will also pay a $2 million civil penalty.
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Arch Coal, Inc. is one of the largest coal producers in Appalachia and a top-five U.S. producer of metallurgical coal. Arch, headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri, acquired 14 International Coal Group (ICG) subsidiaries in May of 2011, making Arch the only U.S. coal producer with assets in every major U.S. coal supply basin. Arch is incorporated in the state of Delaware.
The 14 ICG subsidiaries acquired by Arch Coal violated Section 301 of the Clean Water Act, and terms and conditions of its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits, issued pursuant to the Clean Water Act Section 402. The violations identified and addressed under the consent decree are primarily conventional pollutants, like metals, suspended solids, and low or high pH.
The following injunctive relief is required under this settlement with Arch and the ICG subsidiaries: implementation of a compliance management system; completion of a compliance management plan audit; audits and inspections of all treatment systems throughout the life of the consent decree; integration of all the ICG subsidiaries facilities into its parent company’s audit and violations database; and implementation of effluent limit violation response plan. The injunctive relief is expected to improve the company’s compliance with the Clean Water Act, resulting in fewer discharges of effluent with permit limit exceedances to rivers and streams.
Health and Environmental Effects
Surface mining has significant environmental and human health consequences. Surface mining discharges impair streams and watersheds. Sediment-laden runoff can result in increased turbidity and decreased oxygen in receiving waters, which in turn can result in loss of in-stream habitat for fish and other aquatic species. Sediment can kill fish directly, destroy spawning beds, suffocate fish eggs and bottom dwelling organisms, and block sunlight resulting in reduced growth of beneficial aquatic grasses. Excess levels of metals commonly found in mining discharges, such as iron and aluminum, can be toxic to fish by disrupting metabolic and reproductive systems. Precipitation of these metals can destroy habitat needed by macro invertebrates.
Arch will pay a civil penalty of $2 million for the Clean Water Act violations of its 14 ICG subsidiaries; half of that amount will go to the United States, with the remainder divided among the states based roughly on the percentage of violations that occurred in each state: $895,000 to West Virginia, $20,000 to Virginia, and $85,000 to Pennsylvania.
The State of West Virginia and the Commonwealths of Virginia and the Pennsylvania are co-plaintiffs.
The proposed settlement, lodged in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia, is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval. Information on submitting comment is available at the Department of Justice website.
For More Information, Contact:
Robert D. Fentress
OECA/OCE - Water Enforcement Division (Mail Code 2243A)
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20460