Coal Tattoo

Let’s make a deal II

I reported yesterday about the big Patriot Coal Corp. settlement with the federal government over water pollution violations at its West Virginia operations.

Among other things, I noted that the company was going to be settling separately with the state Department of Environmental Protection over water pollution violations at Patriot operations that were not part of the company’s acquisition of Magnum Coal. (See Let’s make a deal?)

Well, this afternoon, my e-mail inbox started bulging with more public notice announcements about the comment period for DEP’s separate settlements with more than a dozen Patriot subsidiaries.

We don’t know the details of these settlements, because DEP’s enforcement chief, Mike Zeto, refuses to post the settlement documents themselves on the agency’s Web site. And, the public notices simply say things like:

The WV Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) and Jarrell’s Branch Coal  Company have proposed a settlement of an Administrative Consent Order which resolves violation(s) of the WV Water Pollution Control Act. In accordance with the proposed Consent Order, Jarrell’s Branch Coal Company has agreed to pay administrative penalties and to comply with the Act. Final settlement is subject to comments received during the thirty (30) day period ending March 13, 009. Further information about this administrative Consent Order is available by contacting the Chief Inspector, WVDEP/Environmental Enforcement, 601 57th Street SE, Charleston, WV 25304, (304) 926-0470. 

But Kathy Cosco, DEP’s communications officer, was kind enough to type up, scan and then e-mail to me  a list of the total penalty amounts for each company involved. I’ve posted that here.

The bottom line: eight of 14 Patriot companies involved will pay a total of $337,900 in penalties. We don’t yet know how many violations were involved, or how serious those violations might have been.

Hopefully, I can get my hands on the actual settlement agreements next week. If I do, I’ll post them all here.

And if you have comments — or think DEP should post these documents online for everybody to see –  see the address and phone number above. Or, you could call Mike Zeto directly at 304-926-0499, ext. 1324. Or e-mail him at