Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local News

June 27, 2011

Group claims coal pollution has grown worse

Commissioner of Environmental Protection says violations are getting attention

FRANKFORT — Two coal companies accused by environmental groups of polluting eastern Kentucky streams continued to dump pollutants into streams at higher levels than their permits allow after an agreement with the state to correct the problem.

 

Several environmental groups and individuals filed notice in October they planned to sue Frasure Creek Mining and International Coal Group (ICG) for exceeding permitted levels of pollution discharges and accused the state Cabinet of Energy and the Environment of ignoring the violations. After the cabinet conducted its own investigation, it and the coal companies settled on a plan to correct the problem and pay about $650,000 in fines. The environmental groups went to court seeking to intervene, claiming the settlement was inadequate and does not protect the public interest. They have also subsequently filed notice of intent to sue Nally and Hamilton, another coal company in Kentucky.

 

Donna Lisenby, Director of Water Programs for Appalachian Voices, one of the environmental groups, and her assistant, Eric Chance, filed affidavits in Franklin Circuit Court Monday alleging the violations have continued and in some cases increased during the first quarter of 2011.

 

Bruce Scott, Commissioner of Environmental Protection, said the cabinet is aware of the violations because the two companies “verbally reported” them. He said the cabinet’s Division of Enforcement (DENF) subsequently reviewed the companies’ discharge monitoring reports (DMR) and found them out of compliance. Frasure Creek was issued a notice of violation on June 8, Scott said.

 

“DENF has reviewed (ICG’s) DMRs and a notice of violation is forthcoming in the next week or two,” Scott said. Given the continuing litigation over the cabinet’s proposed settlement, Scott said he couldn’t say if the cabinet will seek to deal with the latest violations as part of the current litigation or separately but it will act, he said.

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