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Patriot Mining Company Settles Violations of 2004 Chemical Release at Squire’s Creek Mine in Arthurdale, W.Va.

Release Date: 12/17/2007
Contact Information: Donna Heron 215-814-5113 / heron.donna@epa.gov

PHILADELPHIA (December 13, 2007) – In settlement papers filed in federal district court in Clarksburg, W.Va., Patriot Mining Company has agreed to pay a $177,000 civil penalty for allegedly failing to immediately notify emergency response agencies of a June 2004 hazardous chemical release at the company’s Squires Creek Mine in Arthurdale, W. Va.


    The settlement resolves a federal complaint filed by the Justice Department on behalf of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The government cited the company for violating federal laws requiring that releases or spills of hazardous chemicals be reported immediately to appropriate emergency response authorities. The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) requires facilities to immediately report releases of hazardous substances to the National Response Center, the national point of contact for reporting all oil and hazardous chemical spills. The Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) mandates that facilities provide similar notification to state and local emergency officials.

    According to EPA, the company did not provide required immediate notices to federal, state and local emergency response officials after the facility released at least 31,000 pounds of anhydrous ammonia at the mine at approximately 9 a.m. on June 29, 2004. The company did not provide the required notification to the National Response Center until approximately 8:21 p.m. on June 29, 2004, 10 hours after the release was discovered, and the company never notified the appropriate state and local authorities. The health effects of inhalation of anhydrous ammonia range from lung irritation to severe respiratory injuries.

    In the settlement agreement, the company denies liability for the alleged violations.

    For more information about EPA’s emergency response program, visit www.epa.gov/superfund/programs/er/index.htm.