EPA takes right action on Alpha mining violations, must do more to prevent future pollution

Tom Cormons, executive director, 434-293-6373, tom@appvoices.org
Cat McCue, communications director, 434-293-6373, cat@appvoices.org

A settlement filed late yesterday in federal court between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Alpha Natural Resources — the largest mountaintop removal mining operator in the nation — stipulates that the company pay a $27.5 million fine for almost 6,300 violations of the Clean Water Act that occurred in Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia, Tennessee and Pennsylvania. It is the largest ever civil penalty under the water-pollution permitting section of law. The company also agreed to spend approximately $200 million to install and operate wastewater treatment systems and reduce pollution discharges at coal mines in the five states.

See EPA’s press release here.

The following is a statement from Tom Cormons, executive director of Appalachian Voices, a nonprofit organization that works to ensure mining and environmental laws are enforced in the Appalachian region:

“We strongly commend EPA for holding Alpha accountable for its widespread illegal actions in these coal-impacted communities, although no amount of money can bring back the mountains or the streams that are gone forever, or make up for the lost health, lost lives, or lost heritage of so many Appalachian citizens. To prevent these tragic losses for future generations, the Obama administration must stop issuing mountaintop removal permits and establish strong rules that protect our streams and rivers.”

**Photos of mountaintop removal mining sites in central and southern Appalachia, including an Alpha mine in Webster County W.Va., are available for use by the media, with credit to “Appalachian Voices.” Contact Cat McCue.