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Two Kentucky coal companies were notified by a coalition of environmental watchdog groups that they could face lawsuits over their inability to comply with clean water laws. This is the second time in less than a year that such notice was given to the same coal companies.
Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, Appalachian Voices, Kentucky Riverkeeper and Waterkeeper Alliance sent notice-to-sue letters to the Frasure Creek Mining and International Coal Group. The letters claim that the operations of the companies in eastern Kentucky exceeded pollution discharge limits.
According to Donna Lisenby, the director of water programs of the Appalachian Voices, the huge amount of extremely serious pollution violations discovered during the first quarter of 2011 is shocking. “It shows a systemic and pervasive pattern of ongoing water pollution problems with no meaningful enforcement by Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet officials, who continue to sit idly by and let coal companies get away with thousands of violations,” she said.
The two companies are among the biggest operators of mountaintop removal mines in the state. The West Virginia-based International Coal Group, or ICG, earlier this month was acquired by one of the world’s biggest coal companies, the Arch Coal of St. Louis. Frasure Creek, on the other hand, is a subsidiary of Trinity Coal, which was bought by India’s Essar Group last year.
Bruce Scott, the chief of environmental protection in Kentucky, told the CNHI News Service that the cabinet knew of the violations because the two coal companies “reported them verbally.” He said that a thorough examination of the discharge monitoring reports confirmed that the companies were not in compliance. Scott said that a notice of violation was issued to Frasure Creek earlier this month, while the notice of violation for ICG is already forthcoming.