Advanced Water Treatment Plant to be Built at 4 West Mine

Washington PA Observer-Reporter
2 February 2016
By Bob Niedbala

WAYNESBURG – An advanced water treatment plant will be built in Dunkard Township to treat and desalinate mine water from Dana Mining’s 4 West Mine near Mt. Morris.

Mepco LLC officials presented their plans for the plant, which will be built at a mine portal on Bald Hill Church Road in Dunkard Township, during the Greene County Planning Commission’s meeting Monday and received conditional final approval from the board.

The company was required to address its mine water discharge when it renewed its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit several years ago, said Brian Osborn, senior vice president of operations for Mepco.

It came up with a plan for an advanced treatment system that will actually treat the water to lower limits for all the applicable pollutants, he said.

“We view this as a responsible measure on our part that will allow us to continue our mining operations in the face of increased regulations,” Osborn said.

The treatment plant will remove total dissolved solids, sulfates and chloride, as well naturally occurring metals from water pumped from the 4 West Mine before being discharged into Dunkard Creek.

High levels of total dissolved solids in Dunkard Creek upstream from Mt. Morris were believed to have created the conditions in September 2009 that led to a major fish kill. The source of the TDS then was thought to have come from former CONSOL Energy mines in northern West Virginia.

Treated water from the Mepco plant will be “cleaner than potable water,” said James Beninati, a project engineer with HDR Inc.

The treatment process will de-mineralize the water, he said. The water will have to be re-mineralized with raw water before it can be discharged into the creek to avoid harming aquatic life.

The company also hopes the treated water can be reused, possibly by companies drilling for natural gas, Osborn said.

“We look forward to partnering with someone who can reuse it,” he said. “It’s very clean.”

The treatment will involve a settlement process, pre-filtering and a reverse osmosis system, Beninati said. The plant will be capable of treating about 500 gallons a minute.

Waste water from the process also will be crystallized into a solid that can then be disposed of in a lined, permitted landfill. The plant will be constructed in the existing parking lot at the portal. Much of the parking area will not be needed as employees move to the mine’s newer portal near Mt. Morris.

The plant will be housed in a 7,800-square-foot building. Final approval will be granted by the planning commission once a storm water management plan is approved, which is expected to occur sometime later this week. Construction of the plant is expected to begin in late April or early May.