The U.S. had filed a civil complaint against Massey Energy in 2007 and the district court approved a consent decree in April 2008. Alpha acquired Massey in 2011.

Bady added: "Now, under Alpha, these problems continue and the government's solution is the same: fines and a plan to make individual mines better—which didn't stop the problems last time....It is unacceptable that regulatory agencies allow companies like Alpha to expand their mountaintop removal operations without forcing an end to illegal pollution at their existing mines."

The Ohio Valley coalition and other organizations filed lawsuits in 2010 and 2011 against Massey subsidiaries, which led to two consent decrees. But in its new complaint, filed March 5 in federal district court, the federal government states, "Massey's subsidiaries have continued to discharge pollutants in violation of the conditions and limitations in their...permits despite these judicial actions." 

The new complaint also alleges that from 2006 to 2013, Alpha and the company’s subsidiaries violated effluent limits set in 336 state-issued Clean Water Act permits.

The complaint states that EPA recorded at least 6,289 violations of limits for pollutants such as selenium, iron and manganese as well as for salinity. The violations took place at 794 outfalls.

The consent decree is open to public comments for 30 days and requires the court’s approval.

Kitts said in a statement that the company had a 99.8% compliance rate for water quality last year. He added, “But our goal is to do even better, and the consent decree provides an opportunity to proactively focus on improving on the less than 1% of the time that permit limits were exceeded.

Kitts also said that Alpha had implemented many of the new consent decree’s provisions before the agreement was reached, including an expanded audit program and an improved environmental database.