Suit threatened over water law violations

LOUISVILLE — A team of environmental groups says two coal companies that were fined in Kentucky last year for violations of the Clean Water Act continue to break the federal law.

ICG and Frasure Creek Mining exceeded the limits of pollution discharge allowed under the law more than 4,000 times altogether during the first three months of 2011, the groups said. They made the allegations Tuesday in intent-to-sue letters required by the Clean Water Act.

Last year, the environmental groups took a similar action against the same two coal operators but never filed suit because Kentucky officials and the companies reached a $660,000 settlement. The environmental groups are challenging the settlement in court, saying it's not enough.

A spokeswoman for Arch Coal, which completed a merger with ICG in June, did not immediately return a call seeking comment Wednesday.

Frasure Creek and ICG reported the violations from this year to the state, according to Dick Brown, a spokesman for the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet. State officials plan to issue citations based on the violations, but Brown said the fines are pending.

Appalachian Voices, Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, Kentucky Riverkeeper and Waterkeeper Alliance said they filed notices this week.

The companies have 60 days to respond to the allegations in the notice letter. Then, if the violations are not corrected, the environmental groups have the option to sue.