The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Division of Mining and Reclamation today issued a permit (S-3006-09) to Keystone Industries for a surface mining operation on a nearly 414-acre tract of land near Kanawha State Forest.
This permit, originally submitted in 2009, has been subject to many changes – primarily associated with minimizing any potential adverse impact to the forest. In order to achieve that minimal impact, the DEP worked with the West Virginia Department of Commerce Division of Natural Resources (DNR) in establishing multiple permit revision requirements. Those include:
• Reduction of the overall acreage from 597.87 acres to 413.8 acres
• Elimination of any plans to include valley fills, in-channel fills or in-channel ponds
• Leaving a buffer between the mining operation and all identified channels
• Elimination of proposed surface mining on two coal seams on the forest side, thereby limiting the area mined and increasing the buffer between the mine and the forest from 300 feet to 588 feet at its nearest point (this is nearly double the regulatory requirement)
• A handling plan involving placing rock and dirt removed from this mining site on nearby pre-law mining sites (sites mined prior to 1977 when the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act was implemented) to help with the restoration of those sites
• Requiring that the area be restored to its approximate original contour and that native hardwood trees be replanted
• Requiring that the ridge facing the forest be mined last, thereby limiting the time the operation is visible to park visitors
• Acceleration of the reclamation timeframe
• Limiting blasting during times of heavy park usage, such as on holidays and weekends, except in emergency situations
• Pre-blast surveys and seismographic monitoring for architectural structures of historical significance located within the forest
The company also agreed not to use state forest roads for access, coal hauling or other mining-related activity and will clean out a fishing pond that is full of sediment.
Keystone Industries will also pay compensatory mitigation to DNR of 10 cents per ton for coal mined through this permit, which is estimated to total seven million tons.