Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Consol Energy to Pay $5.5 Million to Settle Clean Water Act Violations

Subject: Compliance and Enforcement News Release (HQ): Consol Energy to Pay $5.5 Million to Settle Clean Water Act Violations

Stacy Kika kika.stacy@epa.gov

March 14, 2011

Consol Energy to Pay $5.5 Million to Settle Clean Water Act Violations

- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Department of Justice, and state of West Virginia announced today that Consol Energy Inc., the largest producer of coal from underground mines in the United States, has agreed to pay a $5.5 million civil penalty for Clean Water Act violations at six of its mines in West Virginia. In addition to the penalty, Consol will spend an estimated $200 million in pollution controls that will reduce discharges of harmful mining wastewater into Appalachian streams and rivers. 
“Complying with the Clean Water Act is a critical responsibility of those who operate mining operations near our nation’s treasured rivers, lakes and streams,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “The state-of the-art technology required by today’s settlement is an important step forward in protecting local waterways and the health of communities in Appalachia.”

“In this settlement, Consol takes responsibility for its past failures to abide by the terms of its Clean Water Act permits,” said Ignacia S. Moreno, assistant attorney general for the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the Department of Justice.  “As a result of this enforcement action, Consol will install a state-of-the-art system to treat wastewater from multiple mines that will set the standard for the responsible management of discharges from underground mining operations in Appalachia.  This settlement will ensure protection of human health and the environment for the benefit of the people who live in Appalachia.”

Consol has agreed to build and operate an advanced water treatment plant using reverse osmosis technology near Manington, W.Va. to remove high levels of chloride from mining wastewater.  When completed, the plant will be the largest such water treatment plant in Appalachia and capable of treating 3,500 gallons of mine water per minute, substantially reducing chloride and other salts in mining waters discharged to streams. This treatment will eliminate more than 96 million pounds of total dissolved solids, including more than 11 million pounds of chloride. High levels of chloride and dissolved solids can harm aquatic life, clog irrigation devices and carry toxic chemicals that impact drinking water. 
The U.S. government’s complaint filed concurrently with the settlement alleges that six Consol mines violated pollution discharge limits in their Clean Water Act permits hundreds of times over the last four years.  The complaint alleges chronic exceedances of chloride discharge limits at the Blacksville No. 2, Loveridge, Robinson Run and Four States mines in the Monongahela watershed and the Shoemaker and Windsor mines discharging into tributaries of the Ohio River. 
The complaint also alleges that discharges of high amounts of chloride and total dissolved solids from Consol’s facilities at Blacksville No. 2 and Loveridge contributed to severe impairment of aquatic life and conditions allowing golden algae to thrive in Dunkard Creek. In September of 2009, a
species of golden algae bloomed in Dunkard Creek killing thousands of fish, mussels and amphibians.  
The consent decree, lodged in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia, is subject to a 30-day public comment period and approval by the federal court.  
More information on the settlement: http://www.epa.gov/compliance/resources/cases/civil/cwa/consol.html

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Dump neighbors concerned about Ala. coal ash bill

Dump neighbors concerned about Ala. coal ash bill

Photo by JLW, Flight by SouthWings
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - Perry County resident Esther Calhoun says her rural area has been ruined by tons of coal ash that have been dumped in a sprawling landfill near Uniontown.
Calhoun was in Montgomery this week to argue that a proposed bill to regulate coal ash disposal in Alabama does not go far enough and should be amended to label the substance as a toxic waste. Such a change would mean ash would have to be taken to a toxic waste landfill rather than a dump licensed for household garbage, like the one in Perry County.
Calhoun was one of several Perry County residents who complained to members of a House committee that coal ash gets on cars, houses and on the ground in the area near the dump, which accepted coal ash from a massive environmental accident in Tennessee.
Calhoun said the pollution destroys the reason most people would want to live in an isolated area like rural Perry County.
"How would you like it if coal ash was right next to your home? I live in the country because I enjoy the country air. It's more healthy. Now you don't know what you are getting in the air," Calhoun said.
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Greg Canfield, R-Vestavia Hills, is supported by the Alabama Department of Environmental Management. It was approved Wednesday by the House Commerce and Small Business Committee on a voice vote and now goes to the full House for debate.
Photo by JLW, Flight by SouthWings
ADEM attorney Vernon Barnett said Alabama is currently the only state that does not regulate dry ash as a solid waste. He said without the bill coal ash could be dumped in any field without restrictions.
Canfield said his bill will not get rid of the landfill near Uniontown, but it will set up rules and regulations for dumping coal ash. He said the state can't label coal ash as a hazardous waste until the Environmental Protection Agency takes that step.

The coal ash was brought into Perry County by train from Kingston, Tenn., where at least 5 million cubic yards of the material spilled from a Tennessee Valley Authority holding pond in December 2008.
Consumer advocate Barbara Evans said coal ash is toxic and should only be dumped in places like the large toxic waste landfill at Emelle in Sumter County near the Mississippi line.
"We want you to regulate coal ash for what it is. It's a hazardous waste," Evans told legislators at Wednesday's committee meeting.
Evans later said she's concerned the bill will open the door for more ash to be deposited in Alabama dumps.
Uniontown resident Mary Schaeffer said she's concerned that millions were spent to clean up the coal ash in Tennessee, and then it was dumped in Perry County "across a two-lane road from homes." Rep. Pebblin Warren, D-Tuskegee, said she believes the bill "is a good first step" and hopes it will lead to coal ash eventually being labeled a hazardous waste.
Photo by JLW, Flight by SouthWings
Read more: http://www.vcstar.com/news/2011/mar/04/dump-neighbors-concerned-about-ala-coal-ash-bill/#ixzz1Fp2JsJXM