CONSOL: Progress Made on Plant
Water treatment will be up by May, spokeswoman says
Morgantown Dominion Post
20 February 2013
By Alex Lang
CONSOL says it is still working on its water treatment plant and
nearly all species of fish have returned to Dunkard Creek, more
than three years after a massive fish kill in the waterway.
In September 2009, most marine life was wiped out by a toxin from
golden algae that was able to bloom in the high total dissolved
solids (TDS) levels in Dunkard Creek. It was later determined
discharge from a CONSOL mine was the likely culprit behind the
elevated TDS levels.
The energy company reached a settlement with state and federal
agencies as a result of violations of the Clean Water Act. As part
of the settlement, CONSOL agreed to construct a $200 million
wastewater treatment facility.
According to CONSOL spokeswoman Lynn Seay, the company is
constructing the plant near Mannington. It is on pace for full
commissioning by the end of May.
The plant has a capacity of 3,500 gallons per minute — or about 5
million gallons a day, Seay said. Water will be brought to the
plant through a network of pipelines and will undergo a series of
treatment processes before being discharged.
As CONSOL works on the treatment plant, the state’s Division of
Natural Resources District 1 Fishing Biologist Frank Jernejcic
said that 95 percent to 98 percent of fish species have returned
to the stream. He added there have only been a few smaller fish
that haven’t returned.
“I’m surprised it’s happening so fast,” Jernejcic said.
He said he really didn’t have an explanation on why fish have
returned to the stream so quickly. He said the fish have come from
the tributaries that feed in Dunkard Creek.
“It seems we’ve recovered remarkably and rapidly well,” Jernejcic
Jernejcic recalled a spring fishing trip where he was able to
catch some big, small mouth bass, measuring up to 17 inches. The
bass are also reproducing in the stream. There have also been
fishermen who reported catching several muskies. Jernejcic said
the DNR did not restock muskies when returning fish to the stream.
The DNR has also restocked some mussels, which the fish feed on,
Jernejcic said. The DNR plans to stocking more fish in a month.