West Virginia environmental regulators plan to fine a Kentucky-based coal company $125,000 for water pollution permit violations.
The state Department of Environmental Protection made public a proposed settlement with Lexington Coal Company Friday. Under the conditions of the settlement, the company would pay a $125,000 civil administrative penalty after exceeding water pollution limits at 15 different sites across five southern coalfield counties from 2018 through 2020.
Per the settlement, the company would have to immediately comply with selenium pollution limits at the Premium Energy No. 3 Surface Mine and Surface Mine No. 2 in Mingo County (with Ben Creek listed as the receiving stream for past exceedances there), the Whitman No. 2 Surface Mine in Logan County (Whitman Creek and Trace and Copperas Mine forks) and the Cherry Tree Refuse Facility in Boone County (Wilderness Fork).
The company would also have to immediately comply with aluminum limits at the Wayne Mine Complex in Wayne County (with Laurel Creek, the East Fork of Twelvepole Creek and the Right Fork of Camp Creek listed as the receiving streams for past exceedances) and iron limits the Locust Fork Surface Mine in Boone County (Locust Fork).
The settlement is subject to comments that the department receives until May 29.
The Department of Environmental Protection also documented effluent exceedances at Lexington Coal Company’s Surface Mine No. 7, Surface Mine 5A, Chesterfield Surface and Jacks Branch Buffalo mines in Boone County; Crystal Fuels Alma Deep Mine and Surface Mine No. 9, and Kermit Mine No. 1 and Preparation Plant in Mingo County; and Mine No. 15 in Nicholas County.
A federal judge ruled earlier this month that discharges from Lexington Coal’s Low Gap No. 2 and No. 10 mines, in Mingo County, caused environmental damage in surrounding waterways, violating state and federal water quality and surface mining standards. The company is in talks with environmental groups to settle a federal lawsuit the groups filed in 2019 alleging federal Clean Water Act and Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act violations at the two Mingo County mines.
Lexington Coal could not be reached for comment.