PennFuture, Group File Appeal on Mine Water Treatment Permit
Attorneys with Citizens for Pennsylvania’s Future (PennFuture) have filed an appeal before the Environmental Hearing Board, challenging an amendment to the permit for the Shannopin Mine Dewatering Project.
The appeal was filed on behalf of Friends of Dunkard Creek, as well as PennFuture.
The Shannopin Mine Dewatering Project, which was designed to prevent a catastrophic breakout of acid mine water from the abandoned Shannopin Mine into Dunkard Creek, was originally granted a permit allowing less stringent cleanup of the water. The challenged permit amendment, for which no public notice was given, would allow the project to collect water from Consolidation Coal Company’s (Consol) permitted Humphrey No. 7 Mine, where no breakout risk exists, and to treat that water to the less than optimal cleanup allowed in the original emergency situation. The permit amendment was granted by the Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) Mining Program despite a finding nine months before by a DEP biologist that the Shannopin Project’s discharge into Dunkard Creek contained high levels of total dissolved solids (TDS) and other pollutants. The permit amendment was issued two months after a massive kill of fish, mussels, and salamanders occurred in more than 40 miles of Dunkard Creek.
“The lax water cleanup standards were allowed originally to avert an emergency – an impending breakout of acid mine pollution from the abandoned Shannopin Mine that would have severely polluted miles of Dunkard Creek and the Monongahela River,” said PennFuture Senior Attorney Kurt Weist. “The relaxed standards do not apply to the water being pumped from Consol’s permitted Humphrey No. 7 Mine, which is not being done to avert a disaster, but to allow mining of the coal reserves above the Humphrey Mine.