The order, signed off by Division of Mining and Reclamation Harold Ward, is also requesting that every one of the 90 existing plants also provide the levels of each element. Plants have 60 days to respond.
Prep facilities in the state already report chemicals to state regulators, but DEP spokesperson Kelly Gillenwater said that some of the chemicals used are outside of the boundaries of those listed in each mine’s permit, such as those used following coal cleaning.
“We are requiring them to identify all possible chemical components of the products they use in processing that may turn up in the discharge to the streams,” Gillenwater said. “These products [some of those being requested] are supposed to be used in very small quantities. They are actually drip fed into the process. If they are used correctly we shouldn’t actually see any detectable limits of that in the discharge into the streams.”
The DEP official told West Virginia MetroNews that the agency has found sporadic cases of the latter type of chemicals being present in water samples, particularly following a blitz of coal preparation discharge examinations following the Freedom Industries MCHM spill in 2014.
“Last year we tested all of the discharge outlets at all of the coal prep plants and there were some hits,” Gillenwater told the outlet. “There were a handful of detectable materials found in the effluent.”
The DEP said that any facility with testing returning an issue will have 90 days to make permit modifications.