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Release Date: 5/22/2001
Contact Information: Wendy L. Chavez, U.S. EPA, 415/744-1588

     SAN FRANCISCO --The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality announced that Black Mesa Pipeline Inc. will pay penalties totaling $128,000 for illegally discharging nearly 485,000 gallons of coal slurry into the environment over a two and a half -year period.  Seven separate spills occurred between December 1997 and July 1999.

     The violations were initially discovered by the ADEQ through a series of inspections.

     "Had the pipeline been properly maintained, these spills would not have occurred," said Alexis Strauss, the Water Division director for the EPA's Pacific Southwest office.  "Desert ecosystems are quite fragile and filling arroyos with crushed coal is unnecessary and unacceptable."

     "Black Mesa has accepted its responsibility to maintain its pipeline to prevent violations of state and federal law and to protect Arizona's environment, "ADEQ Water Quality Division director Karen Smith said.  "The preventative maintenance program to be conducted by Black Mesa is a major commitment on the part of the company and should work well to prevent future spills."
     The 273-mile pipeline runs from the Peabody's Western Coal Company's Black Mesa Mine near Kayenta, Ariz. to the Southern California Edison Company's Mohave Generating Station in Laughlin, Nev.

     Black Mesa has agreed to pay $49,000 to the state of Arizona and $79,000 to the U.S. Treasury to settle charges of violations of state law and the federal Clean Water Act.  In addition, the company has committed to increased maintenance of its pipeline over the next three years, and will pay penalties in increasing amounts for any future spills.

     Coal is pulverized at the mine and mixed with water, which then flows to the generating station.  Corrosion of  the pipeline can cause ruptures, releasing the coal slurry into the environment.   The coal can be transported to waterways, which can harm the local wildlife.

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