Plans for Dam Continue; No Timetable Set

Washington PA Observer Reporter
7 September 2012

The state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources has applied for a permit to restore the dam at Ryerson Station State Park, though it has no timetable on when the project might begin.

The design of the new dam is complete, and DCNR has submitted a permit application for the project to the state Department of Environmental Protection’s Dam Safety Division, said Chris Novak, DCNR press secretary.

The permit application was submitted in May.

“The application is pending, and it is anticipated it will be spring before a decision on the permit is made,” Novak said. “We need the permit in hand before we move forward with any additional activities.”

The proposed design calls for construction of a concrete dam, similar to the old dam, with a more up-to-date spillway and safety measures. It will be built at the same location as the old dam.

Novak said DCNR has no timetable for completing the project but remains committed to rebuilding the dam.

The committment, she said, is not contingent on the outcome of ongoing litigation regarding damage to dam.

“We’ve said all along that we are going to build a new dam regardless of what happens on the legal side,” Novak said.

After cracks began to appear in the dam in summer 2005, DCNR filed a claim seeking damages against Consol, which was longwall mining in the area.

DEP investigated the claim and determined the damage was caused by mining conducted by the company’s Bailey Mine. It ordered the company to restore the dam.

Consol denies its mining activities caused the damage and has appealed DEP’s decision to the state Environmental Hearing Board.

Novak said DCNR could not comment on the litigation.

Online environmental hearing board filing records indicate litigation is continuing and the board is scheduling a site visit this month.

A joint status report prepared by all partiies involved in the case, filed June 29, also states Consol and DCNR have been discussing a possible resolution to the case.

DCNR drained the 62-acre Duke Lake, a centerpiece of the park, in July 2005 after inspections revealed expanding cracks in the 45-year-old concrete dam.

A month later, part of the dam was removed to prevent water from backing up in the lake bed during heavy rains.