The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection has entered into a proposed settlement with Mingo Logan Coal Co., in which the company has agreed to pay $350,000 for unpermitted mine discharges into Proctor Hollow and Buffalo Creek in Logan County.
The consent decree, which was filed today in Logan County Circuit Court and is subject to a 30-day public comment period, stipulates that $300,000 of the total penalty shall be deposited into the DEP’s Stream Restoration Fund and dedicated to stream restoration and enhancement projects in the Buffalo Creek Watershed.
The remaining $50,000 of the civil penalty will be used for an annual charitable contribution of $10,000 for five years to the Buffalo Creek Watershed Association for watershed and community improvements in the Buffalo Creek Community.
Mingo Logan Coal, a subsidiary of St. Louis-based Arch Coal Inc., is headquartered in Logan County. By entering into this consent decree, Mingo Logan is not admitting liability for any alleged violations.
On or about August or September of 2009, Mingo Logan installed a riser pipe and valve on a pipe that was discharging permitted mine drainage from the lower end of an abandoned underground mine into Adkins and Spruce Fork of the Little Coal River in Logan County.
The DEP alleges that Mingo Logan used the valve to diminish the flow from the discharge pipe, thus increasing the elevation of the mine pool contributing to the discharge. As a result, there was a seepage of pollutants into Proctor Hollow from backfilled portals associated with the abandoned mine. That seepage eventually reached Buffalo Creek and resulted in discoloration of the stream.
On Dec. 3, 2009, the DEP issued an administrative order to Mingo Logan to remove the valve, which it did a week later. Shortly thereafter, the seepage into Proctor Hollow diminished.
As part of the consent decree, Mingo Logan has agreed not to install a valve or other flow-limiting devices, or otherwise obstruct the Adkins Fork mine discharge, without modifying its permit.