[Federal Register: July 15, 2003 (Volume 68, Number 135)]
[Page 41841]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Notice of Availability of the Final Restoration Plan and 
Environmental Assessment for the Lone Mountain Processing, Inc. Coal 
Slurry Spill Natural Resource Damage Assessment in Lee County, VA

AGENCY: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Department of the Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability.


SUMMARY: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), on behalf of the 
Department of the Interior (DOI), announces the release of the Final 
Restoration Plan and Environmental Assessment (RP/EA) for the Lone 
Mountain Processing, Inc. (LMPI) Coal Slurry Spill Natural Resource 
Damage Assessment in Lee County, Virginia. The RP/EA describes the 
trustee's plan to restore natural resources injured as a result of a 
release of hazardous substances.

ADDRESSES: Requests for copies of the Final RP/EA may be made to: U.S. 
Fish and Wildlife Service, Virginia Field Office, 6669 Short Lane, 
Gloucester, Virginia 23061.

Wildlife Service, 6669 Short Lane, Gloucester, Virginia 23061. 
Interested parties may also call 804-693-6694, extension 107, for 
further information.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: On October 24, 1996, a failure in a coal 
slurry impoundment associated with a coal processing plant owned by 
LMPI in Lee County, Virginia, resulted in the release of six million 
gallons of coal slurry to the Powell River watershed. The spill 
occurred when subsidence in the coal slurry impoundment caused the coal 
slurry to enter a system of abandoned underground coal mine-works. The 
coal slurry exited through a mine-works surface portal at Gin Creek, 
causing the release of the coal slurry into a series of tributaries to 
the Powell River. ``Blackwater,'' a mix of water, coal fines, and clay, 
and associated contaminants, extended far downstream. The coal slurry 
spill impacted fish, endangered freshwater mussels, other benthic 
organisms, supporting aquatic habitat, and designated critical habitat 
for two federally listed fish. Federally listed bats and migratory 
birds may have also been affected acutely due to a loss of a food 
supply, and chronically due to possible accumulation of contaminants 
through the food chain.
    A Consent Decree (CD) was entered with the U.S. District Court for 
the Western District of Virginia, Big Stone Gap Division by the United 
States and LMPI on March 5, 2001, to address natural resource damages 
resulting from the 1996 release. The CD required that LMPI pay 
$2,450,000 to the DOI Natural Resource Damage Assessment and 
Restoration Fund. The CD stipulates that these funds are to be ``* * * 
utilized for reimbursement of past natural resource damage assessment 
costs, and restoration, replacement or acquisition of endangered and 
threatened fishes and mussels located in the Powell River and its 
watershed, or restoration, replacement or acquisition of their habitats 
or ecosystems which support them, or for restoration planning, 
implementation, oversight and monitoring.''
    Section 111(i) of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, 
Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) requires natural resource 
trustees to develop a restoration plan prior to allocating recoveries 
to implement restoration actions, and to obtain public comment on that 
plan. Under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), Federal 
agencies must identify and evaluate environmental impacts that may 
result from Federal actions. A Notice of Availability of the Draft RP/
EA was published in the Federal Register on February 15, 2003, and a 
30-day public comment period ended on March 15, 2003. Public comments 
were received and are addressed in the Final RP/EA. The Final RP/EA 
integrates CERCLA and NEPA requirements by summarizing the affected 
environment, describing the purpose and need for action, and selecting 
and describing the preferred restoration alternative.
    Interested members of the public are invited to review the Final 
RP/EA. Copies of the Final RP/EA are available at the Service's 
Virginia Field Office in Gloucester, Virginia and at the Service's 
Southwestern Virginia Field Office located at 330 Cummings Street, 
Suite A, Abingdon, Virginia 24210.
    Author: The primary author of this notice is John Schmerfeld, U.S. 
Fish and Wildlife Service, Virginia Field Office, 6669 Short Lane, 
Gloucester, Virginia 23061.

    Authority: The authority for this action is the CERCLA of 1980 
as amended, commonly known as Superfund (42 U.S.C. 9601 et seq.), 
and the Natural Resource Damage Assessment Regulations found at 43 
CFR, part 11.

    Dated: June 27, 2003.
Richard O. Bennett,
Acting Regional Director, Region 5, Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. 
Department of the Interior, Designated Authorized Official.
[FR Doc. 03-17813 Filed 7-14-03; 8:45 am]