Alpha settles violation over Sundial screening facility in W.Va.

The Goals Coal unit of Alpha Natural Resources (NYSE ANR) is pursuing an air permit from the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection that would combine its Goals prep plant and Sundial coal screening facility under one single permit and belatedly cover a throughput increase it did long ago.

The DEP is taking public comment on a draft version of the new permit until April 23. These Goals and Sundial facilities are located on one or more contiguous or adjacent properties, are under common control and belong to a single major industrial grouping, so they can be combined under one new permit that supersedes the two older permits for each facility.

In November 2011, Independence Coal, the Alpha unit that controls the Sundial screening facility, and the DEP’s Division of Air Quality entered into a consent order, the DEP noted. The findings of fact in that order stated that the company was permitted under the Sundial screening facility permit to load a maximum of 1,600 tons per hour (TPH) of coal from the rail car loadout silo to railcars, but that the company had been exceeding its permit limit since June 2008 at a loading rate of 4,500 TPH. Also, the company agreed to update its permit to reflect “as built” construction. The company paid a civil administrative penalty of $48,150 to resolve the violation described in the consent order and submitted this application for a revised and combined permit in December 2011.

The company proposes under this new, combined permit to increase the hourly rate of the railcar loadout silo from 1,600 TPH to 5,000 TPH and to increase the controls on the railcar loading transfer point to include a water spray and partial enclosure. The hourly rate on a coal conveyor is proposed to increase from 1,400 TPH to 1,600 TPH and the yearly throughput from 8,300,000 tons per year (TPY) to 8,715,000 TPY. Due to variability in the recovery rate of the clean coal/refuse, the hourly refuse rate is being increased from 440 TPH to 650 TPH. This application also removes from the permit unconstructed and removed equipment, and adds conveying and stockpiling from the nearby Parker Peerless coal mine that was constructed in March 2008.

The Goals Coal operation, acquired by Alpha in June 2011 in a buy of Massey Energy, is within the company’s Coal River East business segment. “Coal River East produces coal from thirteen underground mines and one surface mine,” said Alpha’s Feb. 29 annual Form 10-K report. “These mines sell high Btu, low, medium, and high sulfur steam coal primarily to eastern utilities and metallurgical coal to steel companies. The coal produced by the underground mines is transported by truck and belt to Goals preparation plant, Elk Run preparation plant, or Marfork preparation plant. The coal produced by the surface mines is trucked to the Goals and Marfork preparation plants. At the preparation plant, the coal is cleaned, blended and loaded onto rail for shipment to customers. During 2011, Coal River East shipped 4.2 million tons.”

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.