Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Arch Mineral Agrees to $1.4 Million Fine, Faces Probe

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Arch Mineral Agrees to $1.4 Million Fine, Faces Probe

Article excerpt

After agreeing to a $1.4-million pollution fine in Virginia, Arch Mineral Corp. of Creve Coeur, Mo., now must contend with a criminal investigation and the fears of people in an Appalachian town that liquid coal waste will cascade down upon them again.

The fine was part of a settlement reached last week with the state of Virginia for a "blackwater" spill in October that killed thousands of fish and threatened the permanent closing of a multimillion-dollar mining operation that spans two states.

It is the largest pollution-related fine for Arch or one of its subsidiaries and the third-largest pollution fine in Virginia history. About 6.8 million gallons of coal waste and contaminated water poured into western Virginia creeks last year when a six-acre impoundment ruptured at Arch Mineral's Lone Mountain Processing Inc. near the town of St. Charles. The spill was the second in two months. Lone Mountain cleans the coal mined by two Arch-owned mines in Kentucky. "We are glad this is behind us," said Blair Gardner, Arch Mineral's general counsel. "I think we are on the road again to regaining the trust of the agency that oversees us. The longer task will be changing the public perception, but I think that we are on the way." The company also agreed to: * Pay the state $15,435 for investigative costs and replacing more than 11,000 dead fish. * Test the impoundment for impurities weekly, a four-fold increase in sampling. * Hire a full-time engineer to make sure the company heeds environmen tal laws. Virginia's Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy shut down Lone Mountain temporarily after a series of infractions. A spokesman for the mine agency said last week that the company had been making progress but nonetheless had recorded three violations this year. …

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