One of the largest coal operators in the region, Alpha Natural Resources, is striking deals so that the terms of its bankruptcy can be finalized in court. One deal protects hundreds of workers; another sets aside millions for environmental cleanup.
The United Mine Workers of America just reached a tentative agreement with Alpha Natural Resources on a labor contract that will cover some 800 workers in Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia. Union members vote on the deal this week.
It comes on the heels of an environmental deal the company struck this week in West Virginia. $325 million will be set aside to cover reclamation costs at both active and inactive mines, as well as water treatment obligations - 80 percent of that for projects in West Virginia.
The agreement between West Virginia’s Department of Environmental Protection and Alpha came in light of concerns over whether or not the company would be able to pay for mine cleanup after bankruptcy. The agreement has been approved by agencies in other states where Alpha operates including Kentucky, Virginia, Illinois, and Tennessee as well as other U.S. agencies and the court overseeing the bankruptcy case.
Alpha filed for bankruptcy last August and announced in February it would sell its most profitable operations to pay off creditors. The sale and plan should be complete by the end of July.