After hearing concerns from area residents and park visitors about its initial application, a mine owner requesting approval to construct a ventilation shaft near Tygart Lake State Park in Grafton has proposed an alternate location.
The new site proposed by ICG Tygart Valley LLC is farther away from the park boundary – more than 2,600 feet versus just over 300 feet between the original site and the park. It’s also located on the top of a densely forested ridge rather than in a valley, which will significantly reduce visual effects compared to the initial location and alleviate concerns about the view. A viewshed assessment submitted with the new request, which was filed with the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) as a Significant Incidental Boundary Revision (IBR), indicates very little visibility at all, and the company plans to construct a berm around the shaft and plant trees to further obscure it from view.
Lighting will be directed downward, will include a diffuser and will be “utilized only to the extent necessary to provide necessary security, and employee safety,” according to the IBR.
In an effort to address concerns about noise from the shaft, which will include a fan, the Arch Coal subsidiary plans to encase the fan motor in a cinderblock structure insulated with noise dampening foam. The fan housing will be covered with sound-proofing material and additional noise-dampening foam. The application also includes plans for a fan silencer and an upcast exhaust tube that will direct the fan noise upward. The exhaust air from the fan will have methane concentrations averaging less than 2 percent. This ventilation air will also be directed upward and isn’t projected to have any adverse public health or environmental effects.
The bulk of the construction is expected to be done in the fall and winter when there are fewer visitors to the park, the work does not include blasting and the plans do not include a pond or point source discharge. Instead, surface runoff is to be captured by temporary drainage controls and directed away from the lake.
Staff with the DEP’s Division of Mining and Reclamation will review the new IBR and will consider all input received during a public comment period ending 30 days after the final of four advertisements is published.