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20 Million Dollar Settlement Called “Big Win” for WV Water

January 18, 2008

Charleston, WV – West Virginia environmental groups are calling it a major victory for clean water in the state. Massey Energy has agreed to a settlement that includes $20 million dollars in fines, in a water pollution lawsuit with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The federal government documented more than 4,600 instances of Massey and its subsidiaries illegally dumping pollution into local waterways as part of mountaintop removal coal-mining operations.

Paul Wilson with the West Virginia Sierra Club says he's happy to see the federal government taking action to protect water quality and safety, but he believes the state should have stepped in, as well.

"E.P.A. should be thanked heartily for citing violations that really should have been caught by our own West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection."

Judy Bonds with the group Coal River Mountain Watch says the settlement will be a relief for West Virginia communities that depend on the area's clean streams and lakes.

"Our health is at stake, because we not only drink the water, but we swim in the water, we catch fish in the water, and we and our children are constantly in the streams of West Virginia."

In addition to the fine, the settlement requires the company to hire independent monitors, report findings to environmental groups and government agencies, and invest in pollution controls at its mines. The company had argued in the past that it was in compliance with environmental and water quality regulations.

Rob Ferrett/Craig Eicher, Public News Service - WV