State AML program recognized by U.S. Department of the Interior


West Virginia is being recognized by the U.S. Department of the Interior for a mining reclamation project in Tucker County that eliminated dangerous remnants of pre-law mining and improved water quality in existing streams on approximately 60 acres of land.

The Department of the Interior’s Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSM) presented an Appalachian Regional Award to the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection’s Abandoned Mine Lands (AML) program.

AML’s Kempton Refuse and Acid Mine Drainage Project is being recognized as “an exemplary reclamation project that emphasizes the elimination of dangerous health, safety and environmental problems resulting from abandoned mine lands,” said OSM Director Joe Pizarchik in a letter to AML Chief Eric Coberly.

The project was completed in 2009 at a cost of $2.3 million and involved backfilling, re-grading and vegetating dangerous highwall; installing seals on two partially collapsed mine portals; and removing two surface impoundments.

Environmental and water quality issues on site also were addressed by reseeding and reforesting; adding limestone to tributaries and implementing natural stream channel design techniques; and installing a passive water treatment system.

The area was both underground mined and surface mined by several companies from the late 1880s through the 1950s. It was abandoned prior to 1977, when federal laws were established to ensure lands are properly reclaimed by coal operators after mining ceases.

“We are very satisfied with the way the project looks,” Coberly said. “We achieved all of our goals on the project and it continues to look good.”

The Kempton Project will be officially honored during the National Association of Abandoned Mine Land Program Awards banquet in October.


Tom Aluise