Three environmental groups have sued ICG Eastern LLC, the operator of a surface coal mine in West Virginia, alleging persistent violations of the Clean Water Act (CWA) and Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act. Sierra Club v. ICG E., LLC, No. N/A (N.D. W. Va. filed 3/23/11). According to the complaint, defendant has been discharging excessive levels of selenium into nearby streams for years.
The complaint seeks a declaratory judgment, mandatory injunctive relief and civil penalties of up to $37,500 per day of violation since January 12, 2009, and up to $32,500 per day of violation before that date. Plaintiffs allege that defendant may be liable for an estimated 1,458 days of exceeding selenium discharge limits. The total potential civil liability exceeds $53 million, according to plaintiffs. The complaint alleges that the W.Va. Department of Environmental Protection “has not diligently prosecuted” defendant’s CWA violations and that the consent decree between the agency and defendant “failed to resolve the issues because its implementation was delayed.”