Mar 11, 2010

EPA Approves Ohio Surface Coal Mine

EPA review and coordination with company results in less environmental impacts

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has concluded its review of a Clean Water Act permit application for Oxford Mining Company's proposed Kaiser Mathias mine in Tuscarawas County, Ohio, and has approved the project. After coordination with the coal operator, EPA is requiring significant improvements to the surface coal mining project to reduce anticipated environmental and water quality impacts and repair environmental damages caused by previous mining in the watershed. There are no valley fills associated with this mine.

The project changes identified by EPA will result in an overall ecological improvement to the Stone Creek and Oldtown Creek watersheds through the reduction of sediment loads to downstream waters, replacement of lost wetlands and stream functions, the restoration of areas previously mined and long-term site protection.

Improvements to the project will require the company to:
&#149 Reduce stream impacts by more than 80 percent from 12,930 linear feet to 2,352 linear feet;
&#149 Reduce wetland impacts from 3.39 acres to less than one acre;
&#149 Restore the entire 531-acre mining site to repair environmental and water quality impacts from previous mining activities at the site;
&#149 Conduct enhanced biological and water quality monitoring to protect streams and establish conservation easements to permanently protect undisturbed streams;
&#149 Reduce erosion from previously mined areas into streams by an estimated 115.66 tons a year; and
&#149 Require stream and wetlands mitigation to replace lost ecological function.

The Kaiser-Mathias mine is a "remining" project that will recover coal at a location mined prior to the Clean Water Act and the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act. Clean Water Act approval for new mining at the site provides an opportunity to require that previous environmental and water quality damages within the watershed are repaired. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is expected to issue a final Clean Water Act permit for the Kaiser Mathias mine shortly.