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Feds fine partner in Longview coal terminal $4 million

Proposed Millennium Bulk Terminals site is shown on the lower left along the Columbia River.
Photo: Brett VandenHeuvel
Proposed Millennium Bulk Terminals site is shown on the lower left along the Columbia River.

A major partner in a controversial Northwest coal port proposal has been fined $4 million for violating clean water laws in its Appalachian mining operations.

St.Louis-based Arch Coal Incorporated agreed to pay the fine to settle a lawsuit by the Justice Department, as well as the states of Kentucky and West Virgina. The suit alleged that Arch repeatedly violated pollution limits in its mining permits, discharging excess iron, manganese and other pollutants into streams.

In addition to the fine, the company also agreed to upgraded inspections and audits to prevent future violations.

Coal to fuel Chinese factories

Arch Coal, the nation’s second-largest coal supplier, owns 38 percent of Millennium Bulk Terminals. Millennium is proposing to build a coal shipping terminal in Longview, Washington, along the Columbia River. The facility would be a major shipping point for U.S. coal to Asia.

The company got permits from Cowlitz County. Millennium says the project will create about 70 jobs and generate $1.5 million in annual tax revenue.

A coalition of locals and environmental groups has appealed. They say it would be irresponsible to make the Northwest a coal exporter at a time the region is trying to cut its greenhouse gas emissions in response to global warming.

Internal documents revealed

Millennium recently found itself under scrutiny after internal documents suggested the company deliberately misled county permitting officials. The company’s application says the facility could export 5 million tons of coal annually. But records show the company intended to quickly scale up to as much as 60 tons.

State environmental officials say they’re reviewing the proposal.

Liam Moriarty started with KPLU in 1996 as our freelance correspondent in the San Juan Islands. He’s been our full-time Environment Reporter since November, 2006. In between, Liam was News Director at Jefferson Public Radio in Ashland, Oregon for three years and reported for a variety of radio, print and web news sources in the Northwest. He's covered a wide range of environment issues, from timber, salmon and orcas to oil spills, land use and global warming. Liam is an avid sea kayaker, cyclist and martial artist.