The United States Environmental Protection Agency, Region 9 (EPA) is issuing a notice of proposed action under the Clean Water Act to reissue a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit no. NN0022179 to Peabody Western Coal Company, Black Mesa/Kayenta Mine Complex, Route 41, Kayenta, AZ 86033.
Peabody Western Coal Company (PWCC or the Permittee) applied for the renewal of their National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit (the draft Permit) to authorize the discharge of treated effluent from Black Mesa/Kayenta Mine Complex to waters of the United States located in Kayenta, Arizona. A complete application was submitted to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, Region 9 (EPA or Region 9) on April 15, 2015.
The draft Permit is very similar to the previous permit (issued in 2010) but does include several changes. First, according to the Permittee, mining ceased at the Kayenta Mine on August 26, 2019, and the Navajo Generating Station ceased power production on November 18, 2019. This draft Permit renewal contemplates changes to the facility’s use, as the facility transitions from its status as an active mine through closure and a final reclamation process. The remaining activities at the mine site will involve reclamation of the mine which is anticipated to occur over the next five to ten years. Second, several outfalls have been eliminated to reflect changes due to ongoing activities at the complex. Due to the ongoing nature of the reclamation process, changes to the Permit during the Permit term will include the reclassification of certain outfalls to support on-going reclamation activities. More information about the Permittee’s planned reclamation activities can be found in the draft fact sheet.
EPA has made a preliminary determination to issue the draft Permit to the Peabody Western Coal Company, pending this public notice. This public notice is being issued pursuant to Title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Parts 122 and 124.
Final Permit Decision And Appeals Process
After the close of the public comment period, EPA will issue a response to comments, a final Permit decision, and will notify all commenters regarding this decision. The final decision shall be to either issue or deny the Permit. If comments are filed which request a change in the draft Permit, the final decision shall become effective no sooner than thirty (30) days after the service of the notice of decision. Within thirty (30) days after the final permit decision has been issued, any person who filed comments on the draft Permit, participated in any public hearing on this matter (if a public hearing is requested during the public comment period), or takes issue with any changes in the draft Permit, may petition the Environmental Appeals Board to review any condition of the permit decision. Commenters are referred to 40 CFR § 124.19 for procedural requirements of the appeal process. If no comments request a change in the draft Permit, the Permit shall become effective immediately upon issuance.