CONSOL Given 30 Days to Pay

Penalty due after court issues consent decree

Morgantown Dominion Post
17 March 2011
By Alex Lang

CONSOL Energy has 30 days after the court agrees to a consent decree to pay its civil penalty that is part of a settlement for numerous violations of the Clean Water Act.

The settlement between CONSOL and various government agencies, including the U.S. Department of Justice, was announced Monday at Mason-Dixon Park near Dunkard Creek.

The energy company also reached a separate $500,000 settlement with the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection and the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources.

After a 30-day public review period, the government agencies will file a motion to enter a consent decree, said Wyn Hornbuckle, spokesman for the U.S. Department of Justice. Once that motion is accepted by the court, the company will have 30 days to pay the fine.

The settlement should first become available for public input in the coming days, Hornbuckle said.

According to the settlement filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia, “Within 30 Days after the Effective Date of this Consent Decree, Defendants shall pay a total of $5,500,000 as a civil penalty to the United States and the State.”

CONSOL agreed to a settlement of $5.5 million in a civil penalty and $200 million in pollution control programs after it was alleged the company violated the Clean Water Act hundreds of times during the past four years.

The complaint alleged that the company exceeded discharge limits with water from six mines that discharge into the Monongahela and Ohio rivers watersheds.

In addition to the civil penalty, CONSOL agreed to construct a water treatment facility for its future discharge water. The plant would use reverse osmosis technology to treat the water.

Discharge from CONSOL mines helped cause elevated levels of total dissolved solids that allowed an algae to bloom, killing most of the marine life in Dunkard Creek in 2009.

The Monongahela Area Watershed Compact, a collective of local water and environmental organizations, plans to discuss the settlement at its meeting at 1 p.m. March 23 at the Morgantown Municipal Airport.

Compact member Barry Pallay said the group is pleased there was a settlement, adding that he is happy the violations were addressed.

But Pallay said the $500,000 settlement for damage to Dunkard Creek “isn’t sufficient.” It will take more money to fully restock fish and mussels destroyed in the kill, he said.

“We would like to see more set aside for Dunkard and the restoration,” Pallay said.