FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Kentucky Coal Company Falsifies
Water Monitoring Data, Advocates Allege
Coalition To Sue Mining Company In Latest
Revelation of Lax Enforcement by Kentucky Officials
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Donna Lisenby, Appalachian Voices, 828-262-1500, firstname.lastname@example.org
Suzanne Struglinski, NRDC, 202-289-2387, email@example.com
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EASTERN KENTUCKY (March 9, 2011)—Another Kentucky-based coal company has filed false, potentially fraudulent, water pollution monitoring data with state agencies over the past three years, putting people and waterways at risk, a coalition of clean water advocates say.
Appalachian Voices, Kentuckians For The Commonwealth, Kentucky Riverkeeper and Waterkeeper Alliance notified Nally and Hamilton coal company today that they have identified more than 12,000 violations of the Clean Water Act at more than a dozen of its operations in seven eastern Kentucky counties. These groups previously identified ICG and Frasure Creek coal companies as submitting false or fraudulent water monitoring data.
These four groups, along with several local residents, sent Nally and Hamilton a 60-day notice of their intent to sue the company over its Clean Water Act violations with potential penalties of more than $400 million. The groups claim Nally and Hamilton repeatedly submitted inaccurate permit reports and may have failed to perform accurate testing and monitoring of pollution it dumped into Kentucky streams and rivers.
“Mining companies discharging toxic pollutants in our water is nothing new to our coalfield citizens,” said Suzanne Tallichet with Kentuckians For The Commonwealth. “Too many of us have been getting sick and dying for too long. It’s high time that mining companies are held accountable for their actions.”
Nally and Hamilton operates in eastern Kentucky under state-issued permits that allow the company to discharge limited amounts of pollutants into nearby streams and rivers. These same permits require industries to carefully monitor and report their pollution discharges to state officials to ensure that their discharges meet the standards set out in the permit. Anyone can review these monitoring reports.
“Once again the coal industry has proven that it has no respect for the laws of the land, the health of our waterways or the welfare of our communities,” said Scott Edwards, director of advocacy for Waterkeeper Alliance. “Time and again, whether it’s with mine worker safety, environmental protection or public health, this industry places profit over people, income over integrity.”
Based on their review of the reports, the groups allege the company repeatedly misreported discharges of iron, manganese and other pollutants. Nally and Hamilton submitted reports in which all effluent data reported for a certain outfall in a certain month repeat exactly the data reported for the same outfall in other months. In other words, the company seems to have cut-and-pasted previous sets of data in later reports rather than monitoring the discharge and submitting accurate data for each month. The company also repeatedly omitted legally-required data from its reports.
“This is the third coal company we have found identically repeating the same water monitoring test results month after month” said Donna Lisenby of Appalachian Voices. “When we first made violations by ICG and Frasure Creek mining public in October, the state agency said they would start reviewing water test results submitted by coal companies and start enforcing the law. Clearly they haven’t done that and yet again, citizens groups are forced to take legal again in order to protect waterways and communities in Kentucky from water pollution.”
Coal mining operations in Appalachia and across the country are notorious for the amount of water pollution that they produce on a daily basis. On March 1, 2011, the U.E. Environmental Protection Agency announced $4 million in fines against Arch Coal for violations of the Clean Water Act at their coal mining operations in Kentucky, Virginia and West Virginia.
“I am shocked by our state’s support of coal companies committing crimes against her citizens,” said Pat Banks of Kentucky Riverkeeper. “Why would our cabinet support a company that has committed thousands of violations in the reporting of their toxic discharges? Why are the Kentucky politicians defending these criminal practices? I am outraged that these very companies are allowed to continue in business let alone that they are defended by our highest officials. It is not in our interest to tolerate such contempt of public health, well being and the regard for future generations.”
Falsifying monitoring reports is another in a long list of recent allegations against the coal industry, which is under widespread pressure to clean up its destructive practices and take responsibility for its enormous and devastating ecological footprint.
“State officials in our Department of Natural Resources and Division of Water are supposed to be looking out for us,” Tallichet said. “Instead they are part of the overall problem that we intend to resolve through legal action. That is our right and duty as US citizens under the Clean Water Act.”
Under the Clean Water Act, the company has 60 days to respond to the allegations made in the notice letter. If all violations have not been corrected at the end of 60 days, or the state has not preempted the suit, the groups and individuals plan on filing a complaint in court in Kentucky. The plaintiffs are being represented by lawyers with the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Appalachian Voices is an award-winning, environmental non-profit committed to protecting the land, air and water of the central and southern Appalachian region. Since the impacts of coal threaten Appalachia more than any other single source of pollution, we are committed to reducing coal’s impact on the region and advancing our vision for a cleaner energy future. For more information please visit www.AppalachianVoices.org.
Kentuckians For The Commonwealth is a grassroots, citizens’ organization that believes in the power of people, working together, to challenge injustices, right wrongs, and improve the quality of life for all Kentuckians. Visit KFTC online at www.kftc.org.
Kentucky Riverkeepers’ mission is to serve as educator and citizen-based advocate for the responsible stewardship of the Kentucky River watershed and its resources for the present and future generations.
The Natural Resources Defense Council is a national, nonprofit organization of scientists, lawyers and environmental specialists dedicated to protecting public health and the environment. Founded in 1970, NRDC has 1.3 million members and online activists, served from offices in New York, Washington, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Beijing. More information on NRDC is available at its Web site: www.nrdc.org.
Waterkeeper Alliance is a global environmental organization uniting more than 190 Waterkeeper organizations around the world and focusing citizen advocacy on the issues that affect our waterways, from pollution to climate change. Waterkeepers patrol more than 1.5 million square miles of rivers, streams and coastlines in the Americas, Europe, Australia, Asia and Africa. Part scientist, teacher, and legal advocate, Waterkeepers combine firsthand knowledge of their waterways with an unwavering commitment to their communities. www.waterkeeper.org