The government alleged that Massey “polluted and clogged hundreds of streams and rivers in Kentucky and West Virginia” through the release of metals, sediments and mine drainage into these waterways.
This settlement comes after a $76.3 million judgment against Massey Energy Co. in favor of another coal company last fall. In March 2007 Massey was fined $1.5 million by the federal Mine Safety and Health administration in response to the death of two miners in a mine fire. Massey is currently under criminal investigation for these deaths.
Recent publications including Coal River by Michael Shnayerson and Big Coal by Jedd Goodell (subject of discussion on NPR last summer) make one wonder if we've finally reached the tipping point on this issue.
Is the EPA cracking down historically prevalent environmental policy violations in the energy world? Is this the start of a trend that will work its way through the US coal industry?
Or, is this just a slap on the wrist after thousands of instances of disregard for environmental and employee safety regulations due to current political and social pressure, soon to be forgotten?