Enforcement

Triad Mining - Inc. Clean Water Act Settlement

(Washington, DC - January 09, 2012) Triad Mining Inc., the owner  and operator of 31 surface mines in Appalachia and Indiana, has agreed to pay a penalty and to restore affected waterways for failing to obtain the required Clean Water Act (CWA) permit for stream impacts caused by its surface mining operation in Indiana, announced the Department of Justice and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Since 2002, Triad's mining operation has resulted in the unpermitted excavation and filling of more than 53,000 feet of streams that flow into the White River.

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Overview of Facility

Triad Mining, Inc. (Triad) is a subsidiary of James River Coal Company, which owns and operates 31 surface mines in Appalachia and Indiana. The surface mine that is the subject of this settlement is the Freedlandville surface mine. It is located east of the city of Freelandville, in Knox and Sullivan Counties, Indiana.

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Violations

Triad obtained the required Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act permits from Indiana for its mining operations, but never obtained the required Clean Water Act (CWA) Section 404 permit for the site, despite the fact that its surface mining operation involved excavating coal seams located directly below stream beds, which are jurisdictional waters of the United States. Since 2002, these activities have resulted in the excavation and filling of approximately 53,920 linear feet of streams. None of the fill activities described above have been authorized under a CWA Section 404 permit, and therefore Triad is in violation of Section 301 of the CWA, 33 U.S.C. § 1311.

Also, on March 24, 2008, the Corps. of Engineers (Corps) issued a Cease and Desist Order (CDO) requiring Triad to stop its filling activities into waters of the United Sates without authorization under CWA Section 404. Triad continued its mining practices until the Corps sent a second CDO on June 24, 2009, which Triad complied with immediately. Since this second CDO, Triad has continued mining, but has avoided impacting additional linear feet of streams.

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Injunctive Relief

This proposed settlement requires Triad to obtain and implement a CWA Section 404 After-the-Fact (ATF) permit to address the violations alleged in this case. EPA and the United States negotiated the terms of this settlement with Triad in conjunction with the Corps, who will issue the ATF permit.

Pursuant to the Decree, Triad must restore 34,906 linear feet and enhance 4,330 linear feet of stream bed to address and compensate for impacts to stream beds caused by its mining activities.  Triad also must create and maintain forested buffer areas, 66 acres in all, to protect these restored streams. Also, Triad must create and maintain 9 acres of forested wetland. Triad agreed to enter into restrictive covenants and to file deed restrictions to run with the land to prevent future development of the wetlands and many of the streams and buffers.

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Pollutant Reductions

Triad will:

  • Restore approximately 34,906 linear feet of ephemeral and intermittent streams, 
  • Enhance 4,330 linear feet of stream
  • Create and maintain 66 acres of stream buffer
  • Create and maintain 9 acres of forested wetlands

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Health and Environmental Effects

The affected streams on the site were primarily headwater streams, i.e., first and second order tributaries to the White River. Headwater streams play an important role in regulating water availability, groundwater recharge and floodwater attenuation. Triad’s mitigation and restoration actions will result in a direct environmental benefit to the affected streams and surrounding wetlands.

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Civil Penalty

Triad will pay a civil penalty of $810,171 to the United States to resolve this matter. 

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Comment Period

The proposed settlement, lodged in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, is subject to a 30-day comment period and final court approval. Information on submitting comments is available at the Department of Justice website.

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For more information, contact:

Melissa K. Raack
U.S. EPA
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20460
(202) 564-7039
raack.melissa@epa.gov

Kelly Kaczka Brantner
U.S. EPA
1200 Pennsylvania Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20460
202-564-9933
Kelly Brantner (brantner.kelly@epa.gov)

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