Sandy Township Supers, Residents Question Proposed Coal Mining Project

DUBOIS – Residents in the area of a proposed surface mining project in Sandy Township turned out to a public hearing to hear more about the project, ask questions and voice their opinions.

Amerikohl Mining Inc. is proposing surface mining for coal on property located off of Larkeytown Road, Wayne Road and West Long Avenue. The company is looking to use the upper area of West Long Avenue as the only access point to the 552 acre project. Transport trucks would use West Long Avenue, then Larkeytown Road to get to state Route 830, and from there Interstate 80.

The company needs the township supervisors to grant them the conditional use of the land, as it is zoned residential agricultural. There are also a number of variances that may need to be granted.

According to John Saugrich of Amerikohl, his company has worked on a number of mining projects and reclamation projects.

Saugrich said the permitting process is still in the works, and it could be some time until permits for the project are granted or not granted. He also added that his company is asking for a code variance to allow them to work within 100 feet of roadways. In one instance his company is looking to mine a portion of West Long Avenue. Saugrich said that if that variance is granted, the road will be reconstructed, possibly in better shape than what it is in now.

He noted to property owners within certain boundaries of the project that they have the options to have pre-blasting surveys done. These surveys include sample photos of the property, among other items.

Work shifts will run from 6 a.m. to 2 a.m., and that sediment and erosion ponds will be constructed. He said that his company essentially reclaims the land as the project progresses. After a certain section is worked on, it is filled.

“We always take great pride in our reclamation,” said Saugrich.

Residents questioned issues such as how often the company will blast, as well as concerns about possible property damage. Saugrich informed them that was what the inspections were for. Then if damage were to occur, then his company would be responsible.

The supervisors asked questions as well, including how close the company plans on mining to residents’ homes, safety measures, and issues of environmental disturbance.

Resident Anthony Waylonis questioned what kind of insurance coverage the company had. He voiced concern for the residents of Christ the King Manor, and how the blasting might affect them.

“I would hope you would disapprove,” said Waylonis, who also noted the potential for disruption of services, potential damage and potential disruption of an area school.

Carolyn Robertson, a property owner near the project, stated abandoned mine shafts exist below properties in the area. She said that some depressions have begun to show in the ground. She indicated that after the land is reclaimed, the area may be safer.

A decision has yet to be made on the conditional use. The supervisors are going to revue the testimony of the hearing, and hold another hearing on Feb. 25 at 7 p.m. From there, the supervisors may ask for more information. After that hearing, the supervisors will have a limited amount of time to make a decision.

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