Environment
4:08 pm
Thu June 7, 2012

Government Files Lawsuit Against Kentucky Coal Operators

The federal government has filed a lawsuit against seven Eastern Kentucky coal companies, alleging the companies discharged waste into nearby valleys and streams without a permit.

Coal companies need to obtain permits from the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers before mining in order to comply with the Clean Water Act. In the lawsuit—filed in the Eastern District of Kentucky—the federal government alleges the companies began surface mining and disposed of waste in valley fills and ponds without a permit. All seven companies are subsidiaries of West Virginia-based Trinity Coal Corporation.

The lawsuit estimates mining at two sites in Floyd, Magoffin and Pike counties damaged more than 11,000 linear feet of streams. Attorneys say the companies eventually did apply for permits, but began surface mining without them.

The federal government wants the companies to pay for the damage they’ve done—and the lawsuit sets out a rate of up to $37,500 a day for the violations. They’re also asking for the defendants to remediate the site.