The next time someone tells you that self-reporting is an adequate replacement for independent inspection and regulation, read them this account of the pollution reports filed by International Coal Group in Kentucky:
In 2010, Appalachian Voices and Waterkeeper Alliance reviewed the [Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet]’s own records and discovered false pollution reports amounting to more than 20,000 violations of the Clean Water Act at dozens of coal mines in eastern Kentucky. The mines are owned by Kentucky’s two largest producers of mountaintop removal coal, ICG and Frasure Creek Mining. (Arch Coal, Inc. purchased ICG in 2010, and Frasure Creek Mining is a subsidiary of India-based Essar Group.)
The groups discovered that for years, the companies each had on numerous occasions evidently cut and paste the numbers from one pollution discharge report to the next, changing the dates but reporting the exact same monitoring data in consecutive quarters. ….
When the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommended a lower limit for one kind of pollution, the reported levels uniformly and suddenly dropped by half, he said. “There was no change in operations to explain that — the numbers just took a dive.” …
“The false-reporting epidemic we uncovered in Kentucky can be considered the most far-reaching and egregious noncompliance with the Clean Water Act in the law’s entire 40-year history. It’s astonishing that the cabinet could have been so oblivious,” said Waterkeeper Alliance attorney Peter Harrison.
Source: Waterkeeper Alliance