Kentucky Reaches Settlement with Coal Company Over Water Violations

Kentucky has reached a settlement with a coal company accused of thousands of violations of the Clean Water Act.

The Kentucky Energy Environment Cabinet, International Coal Group and environmental interveners all agreed to the settlement, which was finalized today. ICG was charged with inaccurately reporting pollution discharge data from several of its mines in eastern Kentucky. The intervening groups—which include Appalachian Voices, Kentuckians for the Commonwealth and Riverkeeper Alliance—found identical data in months of reports, and suggested the company had copied and pasted the numbers rather than conducted the required monitoring.

The provisions of the settlement are the same as what WFPL reported last month, based on a status report submitted by the Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection. ICG will pay $575,000 in civil penalties, which it can choose to have directed toward supplemental environmental programs that benefit water quality in eastern Kentucky.

The company also has to implement a corrective action plan, to ensure that similar violations don’t happen again. ICG’s mine discharges will also be subjected to third party monitoring, to ensure the company is submitting accurate data to the state. All the terms still have to be approved by the judge.

Originally, the case was just between the coal companies and the commonwealth. But after the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet fined both ICG and Frasure Creek (which isn’t included in this settlement) $660,000 collectively, the environmental groups petitioned to intervene in the case. The state resisted, but Franklin Circuit Court Judge Phillip Shepard ruled the groups could intervene.

This current settlement only involves ICG. Last month, DEP Commissioner Bruce Scott said a settlement with Frasure Creek is further off, because the company is having financial problems and Scott says the first priority is making sure the company meets its obligations to reclaim former mine sites in Kentucky.

Erica Peterson

Erica Peterson reports on energy and the environment for WFPL.

@ericampeterson

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