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One of the nation's largest coal producers will pay a $27.5 million fine and is set to spend $200 million to reduce illegal toxic discharges into waterways across five Appalachian states. The proposed settlement is the largest ever of its kind. The Associated Press obtained details before the settlement involving Alpha Natural Resources Inc. was filed in court in West Virginia. The government says the company and its subsidiaries violated water pollution limits in state-issued permits more than 6,000 times between 2006 and 2013. The government says they discharged heavy metals harmful to fish and other wildlife directly into rivers and streams. The companies agreed to take measures to reduce discharges from 79 active coal mines and 25 processing plants in Kentucky, West Virginia, Tennessee, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
After weeks of debate and rewrites, West Virginia House delegates passed new chemical spill safeguards for storage tanks and water supplies. The proposal that the House cleared 95-0 on Wednesday reacts to the Freedom Industries leak on Jan. 9. Lawmakers say the bill reforms a regulatory gray area by adding inspections and registrations at many above-ground storage tanks. About 150 water systems would need protection plans. Delegates added a health monitoring program Wednesday. The bill requires the water company in the spill to install early detection technology for contaminants or explain why it can't. The House and Senate need to work out a compromised bill by Saturday's end to the legislative session.
A bill strengthening chemical spill safeguards for storage facilities and public water companies is headed to the House of Delegates floor. Under the bill, most above ground tanks holding more than 1,320 gallons would face yearly inspections. About 150 public water systems would have to spell out protection plans. The committee also stripped a requirement that West Virginia American Water implement an early warning monitoring system. The company said it could have cost millions of dollars. The bill also no longer requires a long-term health monitoring program. The proposal will get a vote today on the House Floor, and then the Senate and House would need to compromise on the final bill.
Princeton Community Hospital is affiliating with Charleston Area Medical Center to expand and improve its services. A clinical affiliation agreement recently approved by the Princeton hospital's Board of Directors follows three years of strategic planning. Princeton Community Hospital chief operating officer Jeffrey E. Lilley tells the Bluefield Daily Telegraph that the affiliation will allow both hospitals to share knowledge and expertise. He says the affiliation is focusing on cardiology and cancer treatment. A future goal is to develop rural residency rotations at the Princeton hospital.
A man is facing charges after getting into a fight over Chinese food Pollce say 26-year old Zachary Dawson is charged with domestic battery, child neglect creating risk of injury and obstructing an officer. A woman called police Tuesday morning to report the suspect at her house in the 2200 block of Oak Ridge Drive, and two young children were there. The suspect was eventually tracked to a house Hess Drive and arrested. The victim told officers she and Dawson began arguing over Chinese food and things escalated.
The House Judiciary Committee passed a bill passed the meth bill out of committee last night, but made some changes first. The Senate had passed a measure requiring prescriptions for products containing pseudoephedrine, and the House Judiciary changed the bill so that those who have been convicted of a drug related felony would have to get a prescription for those cold medicines, the rest of the public would not. An amendment was also passed that would lower the overall amount of pseudoephedrine you can buy each year. The bill now goes back to the Senate.
The House Education Committee has voted to increase pay for West Virginia teachers and service personnel significantly. The amended bill increases teacher salaries $6,000 across-the-board over three years. Pay would increase $1,000 the first year, $2,000 the next, and $3,000 the third. As the bill stands, service personnel would see a $3,000 raise over three years. The bill was introduced by Delegate David Walker after he expressed concern over a proposal to give teachers a $1,500 raise. He said not including service personnel beyond the already allotted 2 percent was discriminatory. When the Senate voted on the bill last week, it granted teachers an $834 raise. Several members spoke out in opposition to the bill, calling it fiscally irresponsible. The bill will go to House Finance Committee now.
West Virginia University's Board of Governors has acted on a recommendation that came Friday from the presidential search committee, to hire E. Gordon Gee as the university's president. The board endorsed the recommendation, which means Gee becomes the next president after serving as interim president once the decision is approved by the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission.
The Kanawha County Sheriff's Office says from midnight to 5am Monday there were 41 accidents reported. Of those, 14 involved injuries.. At the beginning of the storm on Sunday, there were fewer accidents that there had been with other storms, but deputies attribute the lower totals to fewer travelers on the roads, heeding the advice of transportation officials.
Civic Center renovations were a big topic of discussion at Monday night's city council meeting in Charleston. The firm O'Dell Associates was hired for design consulting services, which means they'll help the city council find the construction company that will perform the renovation work. $50 million has been budgeted for the project.