Permit Granted for Operation at Calvin Run

Washington PA  Observer Reporter
2 December 2011
By Bob Niedbala, Staff writer

The state Department of Environmental Protection has approved a permit for the Dana Mining Co.'s dewatering operation at Calvin Run in Perry Township.

The permit for the two de-watering boreholes into the Humphrey Mine at Calvin Run was approved as a revision to a mine permit renewal for the company's 4 West Mine in Dunkard Township.

The permit renewal and the revision for the Calvin Run boreholes were approved by DEP Nov. 2, said DEP spokesman Kevin Sunday.

Dana drilled the two de-watering boreholes into the closed Humphrey Mine at Calvin Run so it can pump mine water to the Steele Shaft treatment plant, operated by an affiliate, AMD Reclamation Inc.

The 4 West Mine is mining Sewickley seam coal above the Pittsburgh seam formerly mined by Humphrey. The company had to lower the water level in the Humphrey pool to continue mining.

DEP previously issued the company a permit revision for Calvin Run. However, it revoked the permit in February 2010 as part of an agreement to settle an appeal filed by PennFuture and Friends of Dunkard Creek.

The department then determined a mining permit revision was not needed for the project and allowed the company to begin work after receiving an earth disturbance permit from the county conservation district.

The U.S. Office of Surface Mining disagreed with the decision, claiming the activity constituted mining without a permit. OSM issued a cessation order in January, halting work at the site until the company received a mine permit revision.

In February, however, an administrative law judge for the U.S. Department of Interior suspended OSM's cessation order, allowing work at the site to proceed until a hearing could be held on the company's petition for relief.

The case was subsequently dismissed based on a stipulation between the parties.

PennFuture and Friends of Dunkard Creek have opposed the Calvin Run project, claiming it will allow the Steele Shaft plant to discharge additional polluted water into Dunkard Creek.

The plant was originally developed to treat acidic water from the abandoned Shannopin Mine, which was threatening to breach the surface.

No similar threat exists at the Humphrey Mine, the groups claimed. The plant also cannot treat for total dissolved solids.

The permit for the Steele Shaft plant, which expired in 2008, is now under review by DEP though the company is authorized to continue the plant discharge, Sunday said.

Neither a spokesman for Dana nor PennFuture could be reached Thursday for comment.