The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) Division of Mining and Reclamation has asked for additional information related to a coal mine owner’s application to construct a ventilation shaft near Tygart Lake State Park in Grafton.
ICG Tygart Valley LLC, a subsidiary of Arch Coal, is considering alternate locations for the Leer Mine air shaft because nearby residents and park visitors have voiced concerns about the original site proposed by the company. Those concerns are mainly related to noise from the shaft, which would include a large fan, and the methane that would be expelled through the shaft.
The DEP has asked ICG to provide information about how noise would be minimized at any proposed ventilation shaft site. The agency doesn’t foresee any issues related to the methane that would come from the shaft – a concentration of less than 1 percent – but data related to that concern will be included in a thorough review by the agency.
ICG also agreed to resubmit its original permit modification request as a Significant Incidental Boundary Revision (IBR) as alternate locations are considered. The original filing was an Insignificant IBR, which requires no public comment period, though the DEP did, in this instance, require a one-time advertisement and 10-day public comment period. A Significant IBR requires a four-time advertisement and a public comment period ending 30 days after the final ad is published. Once the company identifies any potential alternate locations, any new application submitted specifying a new location would also be filed as a Significant IBR.
Both the DEP and ICG agree that because of the air shaft’s proximity to the state park and out of consideration for the concerns that have been raised, the public should be kept informed about major developments and should have ample opportunity to provide input.
The DEP will review all the application documentation and will also take into account all of the comments received before deciding whether to approve construction of a ventilation shaft.