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Image of the Virginia State Seal

Commonwealth of Virginia
Office of the Attorney General

Mark Herring
Attorney General

202 North Ninth Street
Richmond, Virginia 23219

 

For media inquiries only, contact:  
Michael Kelly, Director of Communications
Phone: (804)786-5874 
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

SETTLEMENT WITH SOUTHERN COAL WILL IMPROVE WATER QUALITY IN SOUTHWEST VIRGINIA

~ Southern Coal agrees to $900,000 civil penalty and environmental improvements plans and upgrades to protect waterways in Southwest Virginia ~

RICHMOND(December 16, 2016)-Attorney General Mark R. Herring today announced that Southwest Virginia communities will enjoy cleaner water thanks to enhanced environmental protections agreed to as part of a settlement between Virginia and our fellow Appalachian states and the Southern Coal Corporation for the company' s continued and systemic polluting of waterways in violation of state and federal laws.  The Commonwealth of Virginia will receive $112,500 as part of a $900,000 civil penalty, and Southern Coal Corporation will commit to environmental improvement plans and facility upgrades to comply with the Clean Water Act and prevent any illegal discharge of pollutants into Southwest Virginia waterways. The company will also hire an independent auditor to monitor its compliance and will post all its discharge reports online so the public can know what is being discharged into their waterways and whether the company is fulfilling its obligations.

 

"This is the latest of several actions we've taken to ensure that Southwest Virginians are protected from water pollution, and to make sure that they are not left footing the bill for cleaning up illegal discharges of potentially dangerous pollutants from mining operations," said Attorney General Herring. "Clean, safe water for drinking and outdoor recreation will be so important to Southwest Virginia as the region continues to diversify its economy and promote emerging industries like angling, paddling, and tourism."

 

Southern Coal Corporation operates facilities in Dickenson, Lee, Tazewell, and Wise counties. Records show that Southern Coal has committed nearly 24,000 Clean Water Act violations, including nearly 9,000 in Virginia. These violations include thousands of reporting violations and hundreds of instances when the company exceeded its permits or simply failed to report on its monitoring of pollutants.

 

Under the settlement, Southern Coal will be required to perform a company-wide audit of all its facilities to ensure compliance with environmental laws, and within six months must audit all its pollution control systems to ensure they are sufficient.

 

In addition to Virginia, the states of Alabama, Kentucky, Tennessee, and the United States have entered the settlement for violations that occurred in those states and in West Virginia.

 

Attorney General Herring and his team previously worked to secure $12 million from Alpha Natural Resources to clean up the former Twin Star Mine in Buchanan County, secured a commitment from Arch Coal to clean up its former mine facilities, and secured a commitment from International Coal to take significant steps to avoid water pollution. He and his team also led efforts to get approximately $27 million in methane gas royalties returned to Southwest Virginia landowners. 

 

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