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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Ohio

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Mining Company Sentenced For Epa Violations

COLUMBUS, OHIO – Oxford Mining Company, LLC (Oxford) has been ordered to pay $650,000 in fines and community service for the negligent failure to report violations of the company’s permit in connection with its coal mining operations.

Carter Stewart, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, Randall K. Ashe, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA), Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and Craig W. Butler, Director of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (Ohio EPA) announced the sentence imposed today by U.S. District Judge Edmund A. Sargus, Jr.

Oxford was fined $500,000 and ordered to pay $150,000 in community service as part of the sentence.  The community service payment will be split equally between the Ohio EPA and the National Park Foundation (NPF).  The Ohio EPA will use the money to study the watersheds in Southeast Ohio and the NPF will use the money to improve and restore the waterways that are part of the Hopewell Culture National Historical Park, located near Chillicothe, Ohio.

According to Court documents, Mr. Light was the Director of Environmental Compliance for Oxford and as part of his job duties was responsible for reviewing Oxford’s environmental compliance, including the submittal of reports to the Ohio EPA.  As part of their permit, Oxford is required to report to Ohio EPA permit exceedances once they are discovered.

On numerous occasions between November 2007 and November 2011, Light submitted reports to Ohio EPA that showed sampling results that were in compliance with permit limits, although he knew that the sampling results actually showed violations of the applicable permit limits.

Oxford failed to adequately oversee the activities of Light, including those activities related to the submittal of reports to Ohio EPA.  Because of this failure, Oxford was unaware that discharges from its surface mines were in excess of the permitted limits and that Light had submitted false statements to the Ohio EPA.

“Energy exploration and development is critical to our country’s future, but it must be done in compliance with the law.” U.S. Attorney Stewart said. “When a company provides false information to the EPA, it undermines our ability to monitor and protect the environment and the public so that we can be sure our waters are healthy and clean.”

“Ohio EPA’s Office of Special Investigations aggressively investigates environmental crimes, and, working with our partners of the Central Ohio Environmental Crimes Task Force, prosecutes those responsible,” said Ohio EPA Director Craig W. Butler. “I’m proud of the work done by our staff and all of the task force members including the U.S. EPA Criminal Investigation Division and the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation.”

“Receiving accurate and honest information is critical to EPA’s commitment to protect human health and the environment,” said Randall K. Ashe, Special Agent in Charge of EPA’s criminal enforcement program in Ohio.  “Authorities must be assured that coal extraction byproducts are treated and disposed of safely and legally.  Today’s sentencing demonstrates that companies that fail to comply with environmental regulations, placing the American people at risk, will be held accountable for their actions.”
Stewart commended the joint investigation by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, Ohio EPA, the U.S. EPA Criminal Investigation Division and all members of the Central Ohio Environmental Crimes Task Force, as well as Assistant U.S. Attorney J. Michael Marous and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Brad Beeson who prosecuted the case.

Updated July 23, 2015