Two coal companies in Eastern Kentucky agreed to resolve violations of the Clean Water Act (CWA) according to settlements with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Appolo Fuels, Inc. (Appolo), a coal company based in Middlesboro, Kentucky will pay a civil penalty of $135,000 for filling in streams, a violation of Section 404 of the CWA.
Coal Operators 1, LLC, Coal Essence Preparation Plant (formerly known as the Viking Preparation Plant), in Pikeville, Kentucky will pay a civil penalty of $110,000 for violations of Section 402 of the CWA.
Under the terms of the agreement, Appolo will remediate impacts to waters of the United States through a combination of on-site restoration and after-the-fact permit authorization from the Army Corps of Engineers, Nashville District (Corps). Coal Operators payment of the civil penalty payment will resolve the alleged violations of its Kentucky Pollution Discharge Elimination Systems (KPDES) permit.
“By taking these actions, EPA is demonstrating a strong commitment to protecting water quality for the citizens of eastern Kentucky,” said EPA Regional Administrator Heather McTeer Toney. “In order to protect our region’s waters, it is important for companies to comply with state and federal laws that are essential to protecting the integrity of the nation’s waters, wetlands and streams.”
EPA said during the course of mining at the Jellico Surface Mine #1 near Fonde, in Bell County, Kentucky, Appolo had an impact on 1,195 linear feet of two unnamed tributaries to Clear Fork of the Cumberland River. Impacts included the deposition of dredged and/or fill material into waters of the United States during the construction of one hollow fill and two sediment retention ponds. Under the federal CWA, a permit from the Corps is mandatory \to place fill material into waters of the United States.
Appolo agreed to restore 790 linear feet of water of the United States through removal and restoration of the two sediment ponds, and will seek after-the-fact permit authorization from the Corps for 405 linear feet of fill to remain in place in the hollow fill. Permit authorization is to include the purchase of stream mitigation credits from the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources’ in-lieu-fee stream mitigation program in the amount of $89,003. After restoration is complete, Appolo will monitor the restored streams for five years and submit annual monitoring reports to the EPA detailing the success of the restoration activities.
EPA said Coal Operators violated several provisions of its KPDES Permit. Violations include: (1) allowing stormwater runoff from a coal refuse pile and haul road to flow into Hopkins Creek; (2) not maintaining an adequate Best Management Practices Plan (“BMPP”) that contains all necessary elements, in accordance with the Permit; (3) having an unpermitted outfall; (4) not submitting a Quality Assurance Project Plan (“QAPP”) to the Commonwealth in a timely manner; (5) not reporting certain information on its discharge monitoring reports (“DMRs”); (6) lacking continuous proper operation and maintenance of all facilities and systems of treatment and control; and (7) discharging pollutants in violation of the Permit’s effluent limitations. Coal Operators previously entered into an Administrative Order on Consent (“AOC”) with the EPA to perform corrective actions to address these violations and has submitted to the EPA additional information indicating Coal Operators implemented the necessary measures to comply with the terms of the AOC.