Permit Changes Sought for Steele Shaft Mine Water Treatment
System in Dunkard
Washington PA Observer-Reporter
19 April 2016
By Bob Niedbala
AMD Reclamation Inc. and Dana Mining Co. filed an application with
the state Department of Environmental Protection seeking a mining
permit for its Steele Shaft mine water treatment plant in Dunkard
The plant treats polluted water from the abandoned Shannopin Mine
to prevent a surface discharge and to allow Dana Mining to mine
Sewickley seam coal overlaying the Pittsburgh seam previously
mined by Shannopin.
The treatment system has been permitted since it began operation
in 2003 under a post-mining activity permit. However, AMD was
asked by U.S. Office of Surface Mining to permit the system under
a surface mining activities permit, DEP spokesman John Poister
“It’s really just a change in title (under which the system is
permitted), and it won’t have any effect on the operations at
all,” Poister said.
The companies are not permitting new mining operations, he said.
Instead, their application is more like a “permit renewal for an
AMD and Dana built the plant in 2003 with partial funding from the
state to treat polluted water in the abandoned Shannopin Mine.
Acidic water in the mine reached a level at which it could breach
the surface and pollute Dunkard Creek.
Dana also needed to lower the water level in the Shannopin mine to
enable its 4 West Mine to safely mine the overlaying Sewickley
seam coal. Dana later also began treating water from the former
Humphrey Mine as its mining operations moved into the area above
the Humphrey Mine.
Under an agreement with DEP reached in 2014, the companies
proposed expanding the system to treat additional abandoned mine
discharges along Dunkard Creek and establishing a trust fund to
partially fund the long-term operation of Steele Shaft after its
mining operations ceased.
The treatment plant originally was permitted to treat mine water
to meet the “best available technology” limits for ph, iron,
manganese and aluminum. As part of the 2014 agreement, the company
was not required to comply with a more stringent standard defined
as “water quality based effluent limits” for nine years.
A spokesman for Dana Mining could not be reached Tuesday for