The Richmond Register

State News

February 17, 2011

Company that blundered pollution reports will again test mining sites

FRANKFORT — The same people blamed for inaccurate pollution reports from mining sites operated by ICG Coal will be responsible for collecting samples under that company’s corrective action plan submitted to the state.

ICG and Frasure Creek Coal entered a consent decree with the state's Energy and Environment Cabinet in December after environmental groups discovered reams of inaccurate pollution reports by the two companies. Appalachian Voices, Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, Kentucky Riverkeeper, Waterkeeper Alliance and three private citizens filed notices of intent to sue the companies under provisions of the federal Clean Water Act and alleged the reports were “fraudulent.” But the cabinet subsequently reached an agreement with the two companies which could have pre-empted the suit. The environmental groups were later granted the right to intervene in the matter by Franklin Circuit Court.

When the settlement was filed in early December, Bruce Scott, Commissioner of Environmental Protection, said the inaccuracies were “mostly transcription errors” by labs which tested the water for the coal companies. S&S Water Monitoring, located in Oil Springs, Ky., was the laboratory used by ICG. ICG’s corrective action plan that was submitted, according to cabinet officials, indicates ICG will now employ Environmental Monitoring, Inc., McCoy & McCoy, and Blackburn Labs to test water samples – but the samples will be collected by a new company called East Kentucky Water Monitoring.

According to the Kentucky Secretary of State, that company was incorporated on Dec. 17, 2010 by brothers Jody and Nathan Salisbury who previously worked for S&S Water Monitoring. The filing lists the same Oil Springs address as that previously listed for S&S Water Monitoring.

Nathan Salisbury confirmed that he and his brother, Jody, collected samples for S&S at ICG sites and are the incorporators of East Kentucky Water Monitoring. But he said he and his brother “did not own any part” of S&S, although the two companies have the same address. CNHI News reached Nathan Salisbury by calling the number listed for S&S and reached a woman who identified herself as the brothers’ mother and who provided their cell phone numbers.

Mary Cromer, an attorney with Appalachian Law Center in Whitesburg who represents the environmental groups, said contracting with the same individuals who collected the earlier samples indicates the coal companies have a cynical view of environmental monitoring.

“The history of this has been that the state and the coal companies blamed the labs,” Cromer said. “They tried to push this off onto the labs so the fact they continue to use the same people is very cynical in my view.”

ICG declined comment through an email from Ross Mazza, a spokesman for the company.

The environmental groups used Kentucky’s open records law to discover what they contended were “fraudulent” discharge reports with thousands of violations that could potentially produce fines of as much as $740 million and accused the cabinet of turning a blind eye. The cabinet subsequently fined the companies $300,000 and $315,000 and required them to submit plans to ensure it doesn’t recur.

Donna Lisenby, of Appalachian Voices, said Wednesday that Jody Salisbury signed many of the questioned reports and the revelation that he and his brother operate the new company which will collect future samples creates doubt in the minds of the environmentalists about future samples.

“If the sample isn’t collected properly – or from the (specified) site – it’s just a joke,” Lisenby said.

Scott and Cabinet Secretary Leonard Peters seemed surprised by questions about East Kentucky Water Monitoring and didn’t know it was operated by the same people connected to S&S.  Scott later confirmed the ICG corrective action plan relies on the new company and said his subsequent investigation showed the company appears to be operated “by the same family ownership name as the former S&S labs.”

An attorney with Pace Environmental Litigation Clinic of New York which has assisted the environmental groups said the connection between the two companies is telling.

“The fact that these companies are ready to hire the exact same people that got them into trouble just shows that the responsibility for these violations lies with the companies themselves, not just their contractors,” said Karl Coplan.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Board Chairman of Waterkeeper Alliance, said it appears “that in Appalachia there is one set of rules for the coal companies and another set for other Kentuckians.”

Scott said the cabinet has no “regulatory authority to prohibit a permit holder from contracting with a lab or sample collection entity of its choosing. We do have the authority to hold the permit holder accountable for their contractors, however.”

The cabinet is pushing a bill sponsored by Sen. Brandon Smith, R-Hazard, which would require certification of water testing labs. It passed the Senate but has not yet been posted for a hearing in the House Natural Resources Committee.

Ronnie Ellis writes for CNHI News Service and is based in Frankfort. He may be contacted by email at Follow CNHI News Service stories on Twitter at

Text Only
State News
  • Bill Clinton will stump for Grimes in eastern Kentucky

    Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes is again calling in the “Big Dog” in her quest to unseat five-term Republican U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell.

    Former President Bill Clinton will join Grimes on Aug. 6 for a campaign rally in eastern Kentucky, according to a campaign official who would provide no further details.

    July 26, 2014

  • 7-1 Warren-Grimes 1.jpg Warren blasts McConnell on economic issues

    Elizabeth Warren said here Sunday that Kentucky voters have a simple choice this fall in the nation’s most important election.
    They can re-elect Republican U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, who the Massachusetts Democratic U.S. Senator said represents the interests of the wealthy and says “no, no, no” to measures to assist the middle class.

    June 30, 2014 2 Photos

  • Healthcare signup in state extended

    While the national health exchange established by the Affordable Care Act — known to some as Obamacare — suffered glitches, crashes and delays, the Kentucky-run exchange, Kynect, often was cited as a national model.
    Nevertheless, those in Kentucky who didn’t sign up before the March 31 deadline will have a second chance to enroll.

    April 3, 2014

  • House sends $20.3 million budget to Senate

    It took four hours and it won’t last long in its present form when it reaches the Republican-controlled state Senate, but the House passed a $20.3 billion, two-year budget late Thursday on largely, but not entirely, party lines.

    March 13, 2014

  • Right-to-work bill dies in House panel

    The sponsor of a right-to-work law in Kentucky knew it had no chance of passing a House committee Thursday.

    March 13, 2014

  • Feds deny giving OK to selenium standards

    When lawmakers wrestled last year with new standards for releasing selenium into streams by coal mines and industry, they were assured by state officials the proposals were based on sound science and approved by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials.

    March 7, 2014

  • Senate panel OKs trial use of cannabis oil

    Rita Wooten and her husband Ricky face an excruciating choice: watch their 4-year-old son suffer from repeated seizures — or violate the law in order to help him.

    February 26, 2014

  • Two honored for work with sexually abused

    It’s Erica Brown Myers’ job to help those who have been victimized by sexual abuse. But helping others can take a toll on the helper as well as the victim.

    February 26, 2014

  • Paul asks Senate for help in 2016 quandary

    Republican U.S. Sen. Rand Paul last week asked Republican state senators to try to repeal a Kentucky law that bars anyone from appearing on the same ballot for more than one office.

    February 24, 2014

  • Republican party split on display in Cave City

    Splits in the Kentucky Republican Party were subtly on display here Saturday evening – if you knew what to watch.

    Around 400 gathered at the Cave City Convention Center for the annual Barren County Lincoln Day Dinner but this one was different from past dinners.

    February 24, 2014

AP Video
Rodents Rampant in Gardens Around Louvre House to Vote on Slimmed-down Bill for Border Looming Demand Could Undercut Flight Safety Raw: 2 Shells Hit Fuel Tank at Gaza Power Plant Raw: Massive Explosions From Airstrikes in Gaza Giant Ketchup Bottle Water Tower Up for Sale Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide

Should Madison County’s three local governing bodies ban smoking in indoor public places?

     View Results