Compliance Order Allows Business-As-Usual at the Seward Coal Loading Facility

Oct 08, 2014
Lisa Oakley
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Photo by Mtn Boy Media

In response to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision finding the Seward Coal Loading Facility in violation of the Clean Water Act, the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) issued a compliance order negotiated with the discharger Aurora Energy Services. The compliance order allows Aurora Energy to continue discharges without any protections for Resurrection Bay or the surrounding community. Aurora Energy has four months to submit an application, which can then take several months to process.

Aurora Energy was notified by Trustees for Alaska that its facility was violating the law five years ago. Yet it elected to fight in court, rather than get the required permit. Following the Ninth Circuit decision, Aurora Energy sought permission from DEC to allow it to keep loading coal during this period, citing undue economic hardship for it and others if it had to shut down.

“Aurora Energy is fighting every step of the way,” said Russ Maddox, a longtime Seward resident and Sierra Club volunteer.

Trustees for Alaska represented the Alaska Chapter of the Sierra Club and Alaska Community Action on Toxics in the lawsuit. We will continue to monitor the Seward Coal Loading Facility’s permit application and compliance activities. We expect that issuance of the Clean Water Act permit will require changes to their loading system to limit or eliminate the discharge of coal into the bay, which will protect the bay and Seward residents.

Pam Miller, executive director of Alaska Community Action on Toxics said, “Aurora can do right by Seward residents, including their facility’s employees, if they choose to follow the Clean Water Act and be a good neighbor. Instead, they have focused on profit over people and the environment. We will continue to demand Aurora Energy comply with the Clean Water Act.”

Read all of our blog posts on the Seward Coal Loading Facility

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