According to officials in West Virginia, a struggling U.S. coal company called Alpha Natural Resources Inc may be forced to buy costly new insurance or otherwise ensure it can cover obligations for cleaning up any abandoned mines.
Under a federal program for coal companies that meet strict financial tests, Alpha has been allowed to leave about US$262 million in cleanup liabilities uninsured in West Virginia.
"Our regulations are very clear," Harold Ward, Acting Director of the West Virginia Division of Mining and Reclamation, said this week. "It's up to them to remedy this situation."
Coal companies are required to have insurance or cash on hand to reclaim land damaged by mining and clean up abandoned mines in the case of bankruptcy, so taxpayers won't be stuck picking up the costs. But a federal program called "self-bonding" has allowed the most financially fit coal companies to leave a share of their total liabilities uncovered.
Self-bonding has allowed Alpha to avoid needing to have about US$676 million of insurance on its mines in West Virginia and Kentucky.
The filings indicate the company no longer qualifies for self-bonding.
Alpha alerted West Virginia officials to the possible shortfall in February, Ward said. State officials have told the company that it needs to acquire more insurance or find another way to make up the shortfall.
Edited from source by Joseph Green
Read the article online at: https://www.worldcoal.com/coal/16042015/alpha-coal-cleanup-funding-2184/