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Miner Alpha in consent decree with U.S. over coal pollution

WASHINGTON, March 5 (Reuters) - Alpha Natural Resources Inc. , one of the largest U.S. coal companies, and dozens of subsidiaries have reached a consent decree to settle a complaint about pollution from coal mines, federal authorities said on Wednesday.

The U.S. Department of Justice and Environmental Protection Agency said Alpha has agreed to spend about $200 million to install and operate wastewater treatment systems and to implement comprehensive upgrades to reduce the level of pollution discharged by mines in Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia.

Overall, the settlement covers about 79 active mines and 25 processing plants in these five states.

The EPA said the upgrades will sharply reduce the level of dissolved solids and cut metals and other pollutants by approximately 9 million pounds per year.

The companies also will pay a civil penalty of $27.5 million for thousands of permit violations - the largest penalty in history under Section 402 of the Clean Water Act.

(Reporting by Ros Krasny; Editing by Bill Trott)

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