DEP: 2009 a Big Year for Abandoned Mine Reclamation Projects

(GantDaily Graphic)

HARRISBURG — Pennsylvania’s mine reclamation program made dramatic progress in 2009 by reclaiming abandoned sites that threaten health and safety and restoring streams poisoned by mine drainage, according to Environmental Protection Secretary John Hanger.

Among the most significant achievements in the past year were contracts the department issued to reclaim nearly nine miles of dangerous highwalls and to break ground for a mine drainage treatment plant that will restore life to more than 35 miles of the West Branch Susquehanna River.

“Pennsylvania’s mineral resources helped turn America into an industrial superpower, but the unregulated mining practices of the past have left us with the largest abandoned mine lands problem in the nation,” Hanger said. “Through the tireless efforts of volunteers and the judicious use of our limited funding sources, we have made considerable progress in the past year reclaiming the most dangerous sites and restoring life to long-dead streams in former mining communities.”

Pennsylvania has approximately 180,000 acres of abandoned mine lands, some dating back to the 1700s. More than two billion tons of waste coal sits in piles across the state and mine drainage is the largest source of water pollution in the state, degrading 5,500 miles of rivers and streams.

The largest source of funding for the reclamation of mine sites in Pennsylvania is the federal Abandoned Mine Lands Fund, which is overseen by the U. S. Office of Surface Mining. The fund is supported by a tax on the modern mining industry and is distributed to states as annual grants to reclaim mine sites that were abandoned prior to passage of the federal Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977.

Governor Ed Rendell was instrumental in working with Congress and other coal mining states to extend abandoned mine funds for another 15 years. Pennsylvania will receive nearly $44 million from the fund in 2010 and is projected to receive a total of $1.1 billion by 2022.

In Pennsylvania, the fund is administered by DEP’s Bureau of Abandoned Mine Reclamation, which awarded 20 contracts worth more than $21 million in 2009 to reclaim 630 acres of abandoned mine lands, reclaim 39,850 feet of dangerous highwalls, backfill mineshafts, demolish abandoned structures, and fill hazardous water bodies. Three projects will extend public water lines into communities where private wells and springs were polluted by mine drainage.

States were also authorized to set aside up to 30 percent of each annual grant to address acid mine discharges when Congress extended the abandoned mine fund. Pennsylvania is using this money to create a mine drainage trust fund to finance construction and long-term operation and maintenance costs for hundreds of necessary mine drainage treatment facilities statewide.

The department used those funds to break ground on mine drainage treatment systems in the headwaters of the West Branch Susquehanna River in Cambria County and the Indian Creek in Fayette County. These systems will treat more than 10 million gallons of mine drainage each day, improving water quality in these long-dead streams, and creating recreational and economic opportunities for downstream communities.

Statewide, mine drainage treatment systems treat 40 billion gallons annually.

In 2009, the department also awarded 28 Growing Greener grants worth $5.8 million to local watershed groups, conservation districts and other entities to address mine drainage projects that will address pollution and restore life to dead streams. Many of these projects are undertaken by volunteer organizations.

DEP’s Bureau of District Mining Operations, which oversees active mining operations in the state, manages innovative programs to encourage modern coal companies to reopen abandoned mines that still contain mineable coal reserves and complete reclamation at no cost to the taxpayers. In 2009, 11 such mining contracts were awarded to reclaim 123.5 acres of abandoned mine lands and eliminate 6,950 feet of dangerous highwall. The value of these projects to the commonwealth in 2009 was $547,660.

District mining offices also used more than $1.6 million in forfeited reclamation bonds to finance cleanup at five abandoned sites. These bonds are posted by mining companies to cover the cost of reclaiming mine sites if the company is unable or unwilling to complete site restoration once mining is finished.

For more information on these programs and other mine reclamation and mine drainage treatment efforts, visit http://www.depweb.state.pa.us/.

Editor’s Note: The following is a list, by county, of the abandoned mine reclamation and acid mine drainage remediation projects awarded in 2009 and the funding source for each project (OSM = U.S. Office of Surface Mining, Reclamation and Enforcement / BF = Bond Forfeiture / GG = Growing Greener / NC = No Charge to the Commonwealth):

Allegheny County
Bethel Park, Baldwin and South Park Township – Demolish and dispose of an abandoned reinforced concrete coal tipple structure.
Contractor: A.W. McNabb LLC., Burgettstown, Washington County.
Project Cost: $9,900 (OSM)
Anticipated Completion Date: April 2010

Collier and North Fayette Townships – Botanic Gardens of Western Pennsylvania. Design and construct a network of underground drains and collection ponds for the collection and treatment of mine discharges for use in irrigation at the Botanic Gardens.
Grant Amount: $226,300 (GG)

Indiana Township – Indianola South site. Demolish and remove mine shaft caps, backfill mine shafts, install drainage measures and fence.
Contractor: T.P. Contracting, Loretto, Cambria County
Contract Amount: $282,145 (OSM)
Completed: November 2009

Jefferson Hills – Monongahela River Watershed. Expose and remove remaining coal reserves from 5.2 acres of abandoned underground mine workings, grade site to approximate original contours and establish vegetation.
Contractor: Joseph Rostosky Coal Co., Monongahela, Washington County
Estimated Reclamation Value: $39,900 (NC)

Bedford County
Broad Top Township. Design and construct passive treatment system at the mouth of Brewster Hollow Run to significantly reduce acidity and iron loading to Six Mile Run.
Grant Amount: $49,500 (GG)

Blair and Cambria Counties
Antis and Reade townships – Construct new stream channel to divert Bells Gap Run away from an old strip mine and abandoned deep mine entry and re-establish flow into the Bellwood Reservoir that is used for public drinking water in Altoona
Grant Amount: $27,000 (GG)

Logan and Gallitzin Townships – Mill Run Watershed. Remove approximately 30,000 tons of coal refuse and reclaim four acres of ground beneath the refuse pile.
Contractor: Ridge Energy Co., Clymer, Indiana County.
Estimated Reclamation Value: $40,780 (NC)

Butler County
Allegheny Township – Bear Creek Watershed Association. Complete phases I and II of the Young Mine Complex Restoration Project, including stream channel restoration and reclamation of 32 acres of abandoned minelands.
Grant Amount: $393,986 (GG)

Marion Township – Stream Restoration Inc. Design and construct passive treatment system to treat the McIntyre Discharge in the headwaters of Blacks Creek.
Grant Amount: $720,245 (GG)

Summit Township – Vogleyville site. Grade 91,500 cubic yards of on-site material to approximate original contours, construct ditches and erosion control measures, construct wetland, relocate gas line and establish vegetation on 9.5 acres.
Contractor: Mark Mashuda Excavating Inc., Mars, Butler County
Project Cost: $187,302.50 (OSM)
Anticipated Completion Date: June 2010

Cambria County
Adams Township – South Fork of Little Conemaugh River. Remove two abandoned coal refuse piles totaling approximately 150,000 to 200,000 tons of coal refuse and reclaim 17 acres of abandoned mine lands.
Contractor: Robindale Energy Services Inc., Armagh, Indiana County.
Estimated Reclamation Value: $55,692 (NC)

Barr Township – Construct a mine drainage treatment plant to treat up to 10 million gallons per day of mine drainage and restore aquatic life to 35+ miles of the West Branch Susquehanna River.
Contractor: HRI Inc., State College, Centre County
Project Cost: $11,124,555 (OSM)
Anticipated Completion Date: June 2011

Gallitzin Township – Clearfield Creek Watershed Association. Design and secure permits for construction of a mine drainage treatment plant to treat the third largest discharge in the upper reaches of Clearfield Creek. This project will be undertaken in conjunction with ongoing DEP projects to treat other major discharges in the watershed and will contribute to the restoration of 10 miles of the Clearfield Creek.
Grant Amount: $43,000 (GG)

Jackson Township – Jackson Township Water Authority.  Grant to cover the cost of materials to extend water service to homes having their spring/well impacted by abandoned mines.
Grant Amount: $390,000 (OSM)

Jackson Township – Highridge Water Authority.  Grant to cover the cost of materials to extend water service to homes having their spring/well impacted by abandoned mines.
Grant Amount: $81,000 (OSM)

West Carroll Township – Fox Run. Grade 88,300 cubic yards of on-site spoil, plant grasses and 7,800 trees on 14.5 acres.
Contractor: Hutchison Excavating, Armagh, Indiana County
Project Cost: $206,001 (OSM)

Centre County
Snow Shoe Township – Beech Creek Watershed Association. Develop design package and prepare necessary permits for construction bidding for reclamation of abandoned surface mine and spoil pile.
Project Cost: $47,028 (GG)

Centre and Clearfield Counties
Gulich and Rush townships – Moshannon Creek Watershed Coalition. Design, engineer and permit passive mine drainage treatment system that will treat a discharge in the headwaters of the Moshannon Creek, a major tributary of the West Branch Susquehanna River.
Grant Amount: $38,190 (GG)

Clarion County
Clarion Township – Stone House Northeast site. Clear and grade approximately 185,000 cubic yards of on-site spoil.  Plant grasses and 6,800 trees on 19 acres.
Contractor: Earthmovers Unlimited Inc., Kylertown, Clearfield County
Project Cost: $237,348 (OSM)
Anticipated Completion Date: April 2010

Madison Township – New Athens North site. Install drainage and erosion control measures, grade approximately 1.2 million cubic yards of on-site material and establish vegetation on 130 acres of abandoned mine lands.
Contractor: Neiswonger Construction Inc., Strattanville, Clarion County
Project Cost: $1,368,780 (OSM)
Anticipated Completion Date: December 2010

Clearfield County
Beccaria & Gulich Townships – Clearfield Creek Watershed. Remove approximately 64,000 tons of coal refuse from abandoned Powell Coal Co. site, reclaim and grade site to approximate original contours, establish vegetation on 9.3 acres.
Contractor: CMT Energy Inc., Irvona, Clearfield County
Estimated Reclamation Value: $45,000 (NC)

Beccaria Township – BCI Municipal Authority. Grant to cover the cost of materials to extend water service to homes having their spring/well impacted by abandoned mines.
Grant Amount: $175,000 (OSM)

Bigler Township – Alyssa site. Expose and remove remaining coal reserves from 23 acres of underground mine workings that were abandoned in the 1940s, add alkaline material to offset acidity at a rate of 425 tons per acre, grade and establish vegetation on 22.4 acres of surface lands.
Contractor: Hilltop Coal Co., Houtzdale, Clearfield County 
Estimated Reclamation Value: $150,000 (NC)

Bloom Township – Pike Township. First stage of a multi-year project to construct mine drainage treatment system on the first and most damaging set of discharges on the Little Anderson Creek from the abandoned Smouse strip mine.
Grant Amount: $112,022 (GG)

Boggs Township – Clearfield County Conservation District. Design, map, conduct sampling and analysis, obtain permits and prepare bid package for construction of mine drainage treatment plant for the Dimeling discharge.
Grant Amount: $47,465 (GG)

Bradford Township — Kovalick site. Reclaim 12 acres of abandoned mine lands, remove of 1,800 linear feet of highwall, add 6,125 tons of alkaline material to counteract acidity, and remove approximately 12,000 tons of remaining coal reserves.
Contractor: Sky Haven Coal Inc., Penfield, Clearfield County
Estimated Reclamation Value: $115,000 (NC)

Bradford Township – Lake Street site. Demolish, remove and dispose of abandoned facilities, clear and grade land, divert and construct new stream channel, install 290 linear feet of pipe culvert, establish vegetation.
Contractor: Saddle Creek Farms Bedding Inc., Canfield, OH
Project Cost: $57,395 (OSM)
Anticipated Completion Date: June 2010

Cooper Township – Grassflat Northwest. Grade 1,531,000 cubic yards of on-site material to approximate original contours, remove water filled pits, establish subsurface drains and erosion control measures, add 3,875 tons of alkaline material to counteract soil acidity and establish vegetation on 146 acres.
Contractor: Berner Construction Inc., Gap, Lancaster County
Project Cost: $1,799,487.25 (OSM)
Anticipated Completion Date: November 2010

Decatur Township – Clearfield County Conservation District. Sample collection and analysis, design, permitting and bid document preparation for construction of mine drainage treatment system in headwater of Morgan Run.
Grant Amount: $2,000 (GG)

Decatur Township – Clearfield County Conservation District. Construct a mine drainage treatment plant to capture and treat a high priority discharge on Morgan Run.
Grant Amount: $300,699 (GG)

Girard Township – Surveyor Run Watershed. Remove approximately 12,000 tons of remaining coal reserves from 25-acre abandoned mine site, eliminate 3,750 linear feet of dangerous highwall, add lime to counteract soil acidity, grade to approximate original contours and establish vegetation.
Contractor: RES Coal LLC, Clearfield
Estimated Reclamation Value: $175,700 (NC)

Lawrence Township – Siebenrock site. Reclaim 23.6 acres of abandoned mine lands, remove 2,600 linear feet of highwall, add 2,600 tons of alkaline material to counteract acidity.
Contractor: Swisher Contracting Inc., Clearfield
Estimated Reclamation Value: $94,500 (NC)

Lawrence Township. Design and permit construction of passive treatment system to treat three discharges from abandoned deep mines that badly degrade Montgomery Creek.
Grant Amount: $47,465 (GG)

Morris Township – Emigh Run/Lakeside Watershed Association. Construct passive treatment system to treat mine drainage from two discharges along Emigh Run.
Grant Amount: $374,945 (GG)

Morris Township – Moshannon Creek Watershed. Expose and remove remaining coal reserves from 5.8 acres of abandoned underground mine workings, eliminate 1,700 linear feet of dangerous highwall, add 145 tons of lime to counteract soil acidity, reclaim and grade 15 acres of abandoned mine lands to approximate original contours.
Contractor: A.W. Long Coal Co., Philipsburg, Clearfield County
Estimated Reclamation Value: $61,000 (NC)

Clinton County
Beech Creek Township – Clinton County Conservation District. Upgrade and expand mine drainage treatment system on the South Fork Tangascootack Creek, a tributary of the West Branch Susquehanna River, to improve plant operation and collect and treat additional mine discharges in the area. Facility will improve 6.2 miles of the South Fork and the main branch of the Tangascootack Creek.
Grant Amount: $148,528 (GG)

Dauphin County
Wiconisco Township – Dauphin County Conservation District. Install a synthetic liner to address leakage in the final polishing pond at the Bear Creek I acid mine drainage treatment plant.
Project Cost: $75,000 (GG)

Elk County
Fox Township – Tyler Run. Grade 506,239 cubic yards of on-site material, add 2,520 tons of alkaline material to offset acidity and establish vegetation on 42.4 acres.
Contractor: Earthmovers Unlimited Inc., Kylertown, Clearfield County
Project Cost: $597,319 (OSM)
Anticipated Completion Date: June 2010

Horton Township – Toby Creek Watershed Association. Maintain, upgrade and install equipment to improve operation of the Blue Valley mine drainage treatment plant.
Project Cost: $40,000 (GG)

Jay Township – Caledonia 2 Project. Grade one linear mile of dangerous highwall and associated mine spoil piles, and reclaim and establish vegetation on 35 acres of abandoned mine lands to reduce sediment and acidic runoff that degrades the Bennett Branch Sinnemahoning Creek.
Contractor: Tamburlin Bros. Coal Co. Inc., Brockport, Elk County
Estimated Reclamation Value: $350,000 (NC)

Fayette County
Lower Tyrone Township – Murphy site. Expose and remove remaining coal reserves from 12.1 acres of abandoned Pittsburgh Seam deep mine, reclaim and vegetate surface, re-establish surface flow to a dry stream channel where the stream has been diverted into the abandoned underground mine workings.
Contractor: Tedco Inc., Connellsville, Fayette County
Estimated Reclamation Value: $152,000 (NC)

Nicholson Township – Georges Creek Watershed. Expose and remove remaining coal reserves from nine acres of abandoned Pittsburgh Seam underground mine workings; remove subsidence features and reclaim site.
Contractor: Patterson Coal Co., Smithfield, Fayette County
Estimated Reclamation Value: $49,000 (NC)

Saltlick Township – Melcroft acid mine drainage project. Reclaim approximately 14 acres of abandoned mine lands and construct mine drainage treatment plant to treat up to 288,000 gallons per day of mine drainage and improve water quality in Indian Creek.
Contractor: Custom Contracting, Acme, Fayette County
Project Cost: $838,802 (OSM)
Anticipated Completion Date: April 2010

Indiana County
Blackleggs Creek Watershed Association. Install system to add alkalinity to Big Run to counteract deep mine discharge that cannot be readily collected and treat high flows from wet weather.
Grant Amount: $339,200 (GG)

Center Township – Blacklick Creek Watershed Association. Upgrade and improve operation of existing mine drainage treatment systems in the Yellow Creek watershed.
Grant Amount: $32,000 (GG)

Young Township – Kiskiminitas River Watershed. Expose and remove remaining coal reserves from 3.2 acres of abandoned Pittsburgh Seam underground mine workings; remove 1,100 linear feet of highwall and reclaim 12 acres of abandoned mine lands.
Contractor: Simpson Coal Co., Saltsburg, Indiana County
Estimated Reclamation Value: $58,333 (NC)

Jefferson County
Porter Township – Jefferson County Conservation District. Complete final design for passive treatment system on the headwaters of the Nye Branch, a tributary in the headwaters of Pine Run watershed.
Grant Amount: $30,300 (GG)

Ringgold Township – Jefferson County Conservation District. Design treatment system for numerous mine drainage discharges on Caylor Run.
Grant Amount: $25,300 (GG)

Winslow Township – Redbank Creek Watershed. Expose and reclaim 14.4 acres of abandoned Lower Freeport seam mine workings to eliminate subsidence areas and improve drainage to Fehley Run, remove remaining coal reserves from 9.2 acres of adjacent mine lands, grade site to approximate original contours and establish vegetation.
Contractor: P&N Coal Co. Inc., Punxsutawney, Jefferson County
Estimated Reclamation Value: $126,600 (NC)

Lackawanna County
Taylor– Taylor South Main. Grade 650,200 cubic yards of on-site material, build erosion control and drainage measures, backfill the Taylor Main Shaft, remove and dispose of structural debris and establish vegetation on 85 acres
Contractor: Berner Construction Inc., Gap, Lancaster County
Project Cost: $1,458,977 (OSM)
Anticipated Completion Date: June 2010

Taylor – North Golf Course site. Grade approximately 914,600 cubic yards of on-site material and establish vegetation on 64 acres.
Contractor: Berner Construction Inc., Gap, Lancaster County
Project Cost: $1,122,978 (OSM)
Anticipated Completion Date: January, 2011

Lawrence County
Wayne Township – Duckrun East. Grade 26,000 cubic yards of on-site material, implement erosion and sediment pollution control measures, and reclaim seven acres of abandoned minelands.
Contractor: Morgan’s Excavating, Mount Union, Huntingdon County
Project Cost: $69,750 (OSM)
Anticipated Completion Date: June 2010

Luzerne County
City of Nanticoke – Earth Conservancy. Reclaim 37 acres of abandoned strip mine to improve water quality in the Nanticoke Creek and prepare the land for residential, recreational or commercial development.
Grant Amount: $400,000 (GG)

Luzerne and Schuylkill Counties
East Union and Hazle townships – EMARR Inc. Design and construct system to treat mine water from the Green Mountain and Audenried discharges. Raw water will be pumped from the discharges to the Humboldt Industrial Park where it will be treated to potable standards for consumptive use. Wastewater from the industrial park will return to a hydroelectric plant located near the mine discharge and generate electricity to operate the system.
Grant Amount: $235,000 (GG)

Mercer County
Finley & Springfield townships – Blacktown site. Construct access roadway, clear and grade approximately 391,000 cubic yards of on-site material, install erosion control measures, construct wetland and establish vegetation on 55 acres.
Contactor: Quality Aggregates Inc., Pittsburgh
Project Cost: $633,418 (OSM)
Anticipated Completion Date: August 2010

Schuylkill County
Cass Township – Schuylkill County Conservation District. Design and construct a new stream channel and a 3.6-acre flood basin to keep surface water from entering abandoned mine openings where it feeds the Pine Knot mine pool and becomes mine drainage that degrades and impairs the West Branch Schuylkill River. Due to poor conditions along the stream banks from heavy previous mining activity, poor stream management, and the presence of open mine slopes and boreholes in the area, it is believed that water losses to the Pine Knot Mine Pool occur along the length of the stream.
Grant Amount: $575,000 (GG)

Hegins Township – Roof repairs to the Rausch Creek Acid Mine Drainage Treatment Plant that treats mine drainage in Mahantango Creek, Pine Creek and Rausch Creek in Dauphin, Northumberland and Schuylkill counties.
Contractor: Spotts Brothers Inc., Schuylkill Haven, Schuylkill County
Project Cost: $54,460 (OSM)

Hegins Township – Seal and backfill slope and airshaft openings, raze and remove buildings, remove scrap metal and wood, and grade and establish vegetation on three acres of mine lands at the abandoned R&R Coal Co. site.
Contractor: Rausch Creek Land L.P., Valley View, Schuylkill County
Contract Cost: $5,000 (BF)
Anticipated Completion Date: August 2010

Reilly Township – Backfill and reclaim the Blackwood shaft and two acres of surrounding abandoned mine lands.
Contractor: Brdaric Excavating Inc., Luzerne, Luzerne County
Project Cost: $464,000 (OSM)
Anticipated Completion Date: August 2010

Northampton County
Plainfield and Washington townships – Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corp. Reclaim hazardous five-acre abandoned quarry featuring 2,380 feet of sheer highwall and 700 foot deep water-filled pit using 1.4 million cubic yards of on-site material.
Grant Amount: $1,000,000 (GG)

Somerset County
Elk Lick Township – Delta Mining, Maust site. Construct pipeline to divert acidic mine seepage to an existing treatment system.
Contractor: Earth Shapers LLC., Ebensburg, Cambria County
Project Cost: $13,423.95 (BF)
Anticipated Completion Date: April 2010

Elk Lick and Summit townships – Somerset County Conservation District. Add limestone sand to two acidic tributaries of Elklick Creek to counteract natural and mine drainage-generated acidity to improve water quality and boost productivity of the trout fishery on the creek.
Grant Amount: $25,935 (GG)

Jenner Township – Lion Mining Co. site. Construct passive treatment system to treat artesian flow from Lion Mining deep mine pool at a safe location that will replace existing ineffective chemical treatment system.
Contractor: Earth Shapers LLC, Ebensburg, Cambria County
Project Cost: $512,009 (BF)
Anticipated Completion Date: October 2010

Paint Township – Weaver Run Watershed. Remove approximately 35,000 tons of coal refuse and reclaim three acres of abandoned mine lands.
Contractor: Ridge Energy Co., Clymer, Indiana County
Estimated Reclamation Value: $54,390 (NC)

Stoneycreek Township – Grade and apply topsoil, remove waterbody, construct erosion controls and establish vegetation on abandoned Big J Mining site.
Contractor: Coal Loaders Inc., Ligonier, Westmoreland County
Project Cost: $409,105 (BF)
Anticipated Completion Date: December 2011

Sullivan County
Cherry Township – Forfeited Bernice Mining and Contracting Co. sites. Backfill two pit areas, remove four ponds, grade and establish vegetation on 80 acres of mine lands, establish erosion and sediment controls, demolish structures, and remove 60 tons of trash and tires.
Contractor: Berner Construction Inc., Gap, Lancaster County
Project Cost: $719,418 (BF)
Anticipated Completion Date: July 2010

Westmoreland County
North Huntingdon Township – Turtle Creek Watershed Association. Design and secure permits for construction of a passive treatment system to treat the Irwin discharge that is the largest mine drainage discharge in Westmoreland County.
Grant Amount: $370,446 (GG)

Unity Township – Loyalhanna Creek Watershed. Remove coal refuse pile from former Witney Mine/Frick Coal Co. site, clean up adjacent abandoned site, relocate stream, establish vegetation and develop building pad for new school.
Contractor: Robindale Energy Services Inc., Armagh, Indiana County
Estimated Reclamation Value: $465,845 (NC)

Unity Township – Saint Vincent College. Partially fund design and construction of iron oxide sludge removal and recovery basin at the Monastery Run Improvement Project. Removal of this material will restore the efficiency of the three existing passive treatment systems, and sale of this material will generate royalty payments that will fund operation and maintenance of these systems.
Grant Amount: $128,542 (GG)

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