Due to violations of the Clean Water Act by ICG and Frasure Creek Mining companies, discovered and made public by Appalachian Voices and our partners in October, the state of Kentucky today filed its own legal action against the two companies.
Kentucky charged ICG with 1,245 violations at 64 coal mining operations in 8 counties and Frasure Creek with 1,520 violations at 39 coal mining operations in six counties. The state levied a $350,000 fine against ICG and a $310,000 fine against Frasure Creek. The state cited the coal companies for:
· Failure to maintain required records
· Improper operation and maintenance,
· Failure to comply with effluent limitations contained in the KPDES permit
· Improper sample collection
· Failure to utilize approved test procedures, and
· Failure to comply with the terms of the permit.
· Failure to submit monitoring results with an authorized signature
· Failure to utilize approved test procedures,
· Contributing to pollution of the waters of the Commonwealth
· Degrading the waters of the Commonwealth.
In October, Appalachian Voices and a coalition of partners—including Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, Kentucky Riverkeeper and Waterkeeper Alliance—filed a Notice of Intent to Sue against ICG Knott County, ICG Hazard, and Frasure Creek Mining, a subsiidiary of Trinity Coal. The notice letters detailed numerous examples of the three companies exceeding pollution discharge limits in their permits, consistently failing to conduct the required monitoring of their discharges and, in many cases, submitting false monitoring data to the state agencies charged with protecting the public. The state of Kentucky’s enforcement actions against these mining companies today confirm what we alleged in our notice letter – mining companies in Kentucky have been irresponsibly monitoring and failing to accurately report their harmful discharges into rivers of the state.
The statement issued today by the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet acknowledged that the notices of intent to sue filed by Appalachian Voices and our partners were directly responsible for the legal action filed by the state of Kentucky:
“The allegation that the discharge monitoring reports (DMRs) received by the Department for Natural Resources did not show accurate readings for contaminants in waterways was raised in early October by four environmental groups that announced their intent to file suit against the two companies.
Following receipt of the notices of intent to sue, the Department for Environmental Protection performed Performance Audit Inspections (PAIs) on Oct. 14 and 15, 2010 at three coal mining facilities and the laboratories performing the sampling for the companies. Because a PAI includes oversight of sample collection and analysis, the contract labs used by ICG and Frasure Creek were included in the process.
The PAIs revealed poor record keeping, inadequate quality assurance and quality control, improper procedures, and one facility with water quality impacts. While many of the violations were found at the laboratories, the mining companies are responsible for their shortcomings under state law.”
Appalachian Voices and its partners will be reviewing the complaints and consent decrees filed by the state of Kentucky. Despite the state’s enforcement actions, we continue to believe that we have exposed just the tip of a very deep iceberg. We are encouraged by the state’s announcement that they are continuing to investigate other mining companies for similar violations; the people of Kentucky can rest assured that Appalachian Voices and KFTC are likewise continuing their investigations into these improper mining activities beyond the companies cited in our notice letters filed in October.