CORRECTION: Massey was fined $1.5 million by the Mine Safety and Health Administration, not $1.5 billion.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELASE
January 11, 2010
Virginia Cramer, Sierra Club, 804-225-9113 x 102
Dianne Bady, Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, (304) 360-2072
Groups Put Massey on Notice for Over 12,000 Clean Water Violations
Company Has Pattern of Illegal Pollution
Charleston, WV: A coalition of groups, including the Sierra Club, Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, Coal River Mountain Watch, and the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy took action today to hold coal giant Massey Energy accountable for over 12,000 violations of the Clean Water Act and surface mining laws associated with their mining operations in West Virginia. Massey continues to illegally dump pollution into Appalachian waterways despite a massive $20 million fine already placed on the company for thousands of previous violations.
"Massey has operated outside the law for far too long. There is a history here, not only of Massey ignoring the law, but of state officials ignoring Massey's violations," said Judy Bonds of Coal River Mountain Watch. "Massey needs to be held accountable for these very real crimes against the people of Appalachia."
Massey has a long history of environmental and social irresponsibility-including one of the largest slurry spills ever to take place in the United States and a $1.5 million fine from the Mine Safety and Health Administration. In 2008 the company was fined $20 million for Clean Water Act violations, similar to those cited by the coalition, after the federal government documented over 4,600 cases of pollution being illegally dumped into local waters by Massey and its subsidiaries. Incredibly, Massey's violations have increased in frequency since its settlement with the federal government.
"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," said Diane Bady of the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition.
"Massey has both a legal and moral obligation to protect streams and drinking water supplies in the communities where it operates," said Jim Sconyers of the Sierra Club's West Virginia Chapter. "Their permits are not just pieces of paper - they are solemn commitments to protect the waters and people of West Virginia. Unfortunately the company has shown time and again that it is unwilling to take its obligations seriously."
Massey and its subsidiaries operate dozens of mountaintop removal and other large-scale surface mines in Appalachia, using some of the most environmentally devastating types of mining, flattening the landscape and burying miles of streams. Close to 2,000 miles of streams have already been lost and new proposed mountaintop removal permits could destroy more than 60,000 acres of the remaining forest.
A copy of the notice of intent can be found here.