BALTIMORE, MD (April 12, 2006) – The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) has taken action against Buffalo Coal Company, Inc., to force compliance with the State’s water pollution laws at its surface mine site in Allegany County.
Effective today, MDE’s Water Management Administration issued an administrative complaint, order and penalty against Buffalo Coal for its surface mine site located near Lonaconing for ongoing, significant National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit violations. MDE seeks a $50,000 penalty and orders Buffalo Coal to take immediate corrective action to abate water pollution of Jackson Run and bring the site into compliance with its permit.
Jackson Run, which drains into Georges Creek, is classified as natural trout waters and has sustained adverse impact from the site’s improperly treated acid mine discharge. MDE determined through routine inspections and review of the facility’s self-monitoring records (i.e. quarterly Discharge Monitoring Reports and on-site sampling logs) that site discharges have exceeded the effluent limitations for pH, total manganese and Total Suspended Solids. Additionally, the company has ceased to properly operate and maintain the required wastewater treatment system at the site, which is causing untreated acid mine drainage to discharge to Jackson Run.
In addition to the administrative action taken by MDE for the company’s NPDES permit violations and other water pollution violations, the Maryland Bureau of Mines issued an order requiring Buffalo Coal to show cause why its surface mining permit should not be revoked and bond forfeited for the company’s failure to comply with its mining permit. Once the Bureau of Mines has forfeited a bond, it is authorized to take over operation of a permittee’s water treatment system.
“Though this situation presents no immediate public health or safety threat, these are continuing violations of water pollution laws and we must act now to protect the waters and related environment,” Secretary Philbrick said.
Buffalo Coal operates a surface coal mining operation known as the Phillips job on a 111-acre site approximately one mile east of Lonaconing in Allegany County. MDE renewed Buffalo Coal’s General NPDES Permit for Discharges from Surface Coal Mines permit on Sept. 16, 2005, which establishes effluent limitations and monitoring requirements for the discharge of stormwater and groundwater seepage from the site to Jackson Run.