CONSOL On Track, DEP Says

Energy firm meeting terms of settlement
Morgantown Dominion Post
9 January 2011
By Alex Lang

CONSOL Energy is meeting the terms of its settlement over water pollution, including starting work on a $200 million water treatment facility, officials said.

“They are progressing through requirement of the consent decree,” said Kathy Cosco, spokeswoman for the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).

In March, CONSOL reached a settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the West Virginia DEP. The settlement was over numerous violations by CONSOL for discharging mining wastewater into local waterways and violating the Clean Water Act.

Dunkard Creek was one of the streams the company used for discharge waters. That discharge helped lead to conditions that allowed an algae bloom in the stream, which caused a massive fish kill in September 2009.

As part of a settlement, the company had to pay $5.5 million. It also has to construct an approximately $200 million wastewater treatment facility, which will remove about 99 percent of all chloride, total-dissolved-solids (TDS) and other metals from the wastewater.

The facility is expected to eliminate 96 million pounds of TDS per year, and must begin operations by the end of May 2013.

Cosco said CONSOL is making progress on the milestones set in the settlement. The company also provides quarterly progress updates, with another due soon.

There is some site prep occurring for the new treatment facility, Cosco said. The company has begun to put concrete in for the foundation.

Representatives from CONSOL did not respond in time for this report.

The department continues to monitor the current discharges from CONSOL, Cosco said. She added the company is meeting the limits set in the settlement.

District 1 fisheries biologist for the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources Frank Jernejcic said the division scheduled three separate occasions to survey fish in Dunkard Creek over the summer, but high waters washed out each attempt.

The division will try to survey next summer, Jernejcic said. But he said people are reporting seeing more fish in the stream.

“Things are improving,” Jernejcic said. Jernejcic said at some point the division plans to restock some of the fish in the waterway. But for some species to be restocked, there has to be adequate water life in the creek first