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Massey settles Sierra Club lawsuit

Read the settlement here

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Massey Energy has agreed to donate $400,000 to a West Virginia University College of Law conservation project to resolve a water pollution lawsuit filed last year by the Sierra Club.

The deal includes new compliance requirements and sets up a schedule of automatic fines Massey would have to pay for future violations, according to legal documents.

A copy of the settlement was submitted Wednesday to U.S. District Judge John T. Copenhaver in Charleston.

The Sierra Club and three other groups sued Massey last April, alleging thousands of violations of Clean Water Act permit limits. The suit alleged that Massey was continuing to violate such limits, despite a $20 million pollution settlement with federal regulators.

A settlement has been in the work for months, and the deal was submitted to Copenhaver just weeks before Massey is scheduled to be bought out by Alpha Natural Resources.

The deal is similar to one reached last September, in which CONSOL Energy agreed to spend $1.2 million to create a water pollution and land protection legal clinic at the law school.

Under that deal, the clinic would provide legal assistance to Fayette County communities to work on water quality and stream restoration projects and deal with "straight pipe" sewage pollution issues. The clinic will not work on litigation, but provide other legal assistance, such as help in preparing applications for grants to help create better sewage treatment plants in the area.

In the Massey deal, the $400,000 would go to the West Virginia Land Trust, which would work with the law school on a program to protect and preserve land along streams.Reach Ken Ward Jr. at kward@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1702.


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