It’s no surprise that Massey Energy leaves a lot to be desired as a corporate citizen (see “Byrd rips Massey Energy for refusing to fund a new school so students can move away from coal processing plant“). But WV journalist Ken Ward, Jr., has the story of just how bad an actor the company is in this piece reposted with permission from The Charleston Gazette’s Coal Tattoo blog.
Two years ago, when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reached a record $20 million Clean Water Act settlement with Massey Energy, this was the lead of my Gazette story on the deal:
Federal environmental regulators believe a record $20 million fine, new pollution monitoring requirements and the threat of automatic penalties for additional violations will force Massey Energy co. to change the way it does business.
Well “¦ it hasn’t turned out that way, at least according to a new formal Notice of Intent to Sue sent to Massey last week by the Sierra Club, the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, Coal River Mountain Watch and the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy.
According to the legal notice, which I’ve posted here:
Remarkably, Massey’s violations have grown more frequent after the settlement with EPA than they were before EPA brought its enforcement action.
Specifically, the notice alleges that, Between April 1, 2008, and March 31, 2009, Massey violated its effluent limits at its various operations at least 971 times, and accrued 12,977 days of violation during that 12-month period. The U.S. government’s lawsuit against Massey, which resulted in the $20 million settlement, alleged more than 60,000 violations over a six-year period, or about 10,000 violations per year.
The legal notice warns Massey that the citizen groups plan to file a lawsuit against the company, seeking civil penalties and a court order that Massey stop the violations.
Diane Bady of OVEC said:
Massey seems to think that poisoning water by consistently ignoring laws is an acceptable business practice. The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection seems to agree, as they continue to allow these violations. We are forced to do the agencies job, to hold Massey accountable.
I’ve asked Massey officials for a comment, and will update this post when I hear from them.
– Ken Ward, Jr.