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West Virginia agrees to extend deadlines for selenium cleanup at VCLF mines

The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection has agreed to allow the Virginia Conservation Legacy Fund Inc. to extend the cleanup deadlines for selenium at certain former Patriot Coal Corp. mines.

According to a document filed in the Circuit Court of Logan County, W.Va., VCLF subsidiary ERP Compliant Fuels is not compliant with deadlines and obligations.

"That state of noncompliance is partially the result of Patriot's 2015 bankruptcy proceeding, and partially because of ERP's financial condition. ERP's start-up capital has been less than expected," the document said. "WVDEP and ERP expect that the current state of noncompliance will persist for the foreseeable future because of ERP's financial condition."

VCLF had adopted some of the obligations to limit the amount of selenium effluent when it bought the Hobet, Apogee and Catenary complexes from Patriot. VCLF had agreed in 2015 to pay $30 million for reclamation activities at some Patriot operations.

The new agreement orders VCLF to develop selenium treatment systems by Sept. 15, 2018, and by June 15, 2020, for two different outlets. If the systems are not effectively reducing the selenium by agreed-upon limits by these dates, VCLF must pay fines of $1,000 per day after the 30th day of noncompliance and lesser fines for each of the first 30 days.

Another agreement also extends the deadlines for selenium control at the Hobet and Catenary complexes.

VCLF did not respond to a request for comment.