The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection has entered into a Consent Decree with three organizations regarding the permitting of special reclamation sites around the state.
The Consent Decree, which was filed today in the United States District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia and the United States District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia, is intended to satisfy orders from those courts requiring the DEP to issue water pollution control permits for twenty-one bond forfeiture sites as a result of cases previously filed by West Virginia Highlands Conservancy, Inc. and West Virginia Rivers Coalition, Inc.. The Consent Decree also resolves additional claims brought by those organizations and the Sierra Club regarding the permitting of all bond forfeiture sites in the state.
The parties reached an agreement in which the DEP will provide a report to the Special Reclamation Fund Advisory Council that describes what type of treatment will be needed at each bond forfeiture site and estimates the costs associated with such treatment. The DEP will prioritize the sites and will issue National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits to 50 sites each year, resulting in all 171 bond forfeiture sites being permitted by December 2015.
Each NPDES permit that is issued will contain effluent limitations needed to protect state water quality standards.
In the Consent Decree, the plaintiffs agree they will not appeal or challenge the initial issuance of the NPDES permits for the sites, nor will they comment on the terms and condition of the permits to the DEP or the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
“I’m pleased the agency was able to reach an agreement with these organizations regarding the timing of issuing permits for such a large number of sites,” said Randy C. Huffman, Cabinet Secretary for the DEP.