Drilling Into Mine Set
Morgantown Dominion Post
21 July 2014
By David Beard
Friends of Deckers Creek (FODC) is preparing to take a small step
in its Richard Mine acid mine drainage cleanup project.
The first of a series of bore holes will be drilled into the mine
so the chemistry of the Richard Mine pool can be studied and the
best site for a treatment plant determined.
FODC Water Remediation Project Manager Tim Denicola told members
of its restoration team that a contractor is slated to drill the
hole July 31. The access will enable a geotechnical study.
Denicola said its contractor, GAI Consultants, secured Uniontown,
Pa.-based driller Redstone International to install and monitor
the exploratory well. The bore hole will be 4 inches across. FODC
previously secured an agreement with a Brookhaven landowner for
the well site.
As previously reported, this project will cost about $30,000. GAI
previously recommended to the Natural Resources Conservation
Services that 23 such wells be drilled, and FODC would like to
drill more in order to get a better picture of the pool. But that
would be expensive: 10 wells are estimated at about $200,000.
Armed with information from the study, Denicola said, FODC will
begin community outreach to hear feedback and gain support for its
The Richard Mine is the single largest source of acid mine
drainage into the creek: 200 gallons per minute. That’s enough to
fill a 22,000-gallon, 16 by 32 foot backyard swimming pool with an
8 foot deep end in 110 minutes, less than two hours. Each year,
that contaminated flow puts into the creek 730,500 pounds of
acidity, 140,000 pounds of iron, 59,000 pounds of aluminum and
3,200 pounds of manganese, FODC reports.
All that metal, plus the acidity, turns the creek orange and kills
the aquatic life for its last 5.3 miles.
On a positive note, the many successful cleanup efforts upstream
illustrate the promise of the Richard Mine project.
“I think the community is becoming aware of what Deckers Creek
could look like without the Richard Mine discharge,” Denicola
Restoration Team member Martin Christ, a former FODC staffer and
Denicola’s predecessor, said the team consists of various
stakeholders who are interested in improving the creek. Among
other things, they discuss and prioritize projects and exchange
There are others
Richard Mine is the biggest mine drainage project on the creek,
but not the only one. Discharge points extend up into Preston
Denicola updated team members on four Preston projects in the
works and one he hopes to start.
In the works:
The Slabcamp Tributary site, south of Masontown, has five
discharge sources and pumps 78,637 pounds of acidity per year into
the creek, plus 1,287 pounds of iron and 5,855 pounds of aluminum.
The Ingrand Mine’s four discharges dump in 40,485 pounds of
acidity, 3,222 pounds of iron and 3,068 pounds of aluminum. This
project and the next two are all east of Reedsville.
Valley Point 12 has two sources, pumping in 32,854 pounds of
acidity, 6,761 pounds of iron and 1,620 pounds of aluminum.
Kanes Creek South No. 1 has a remediation setup but needs
upgrades. It deposits 10,485 pounds of acidity, 988 pounds of iron
and 370 pounds of aluminum annually.
If there’s money available, he said, the Valley Highwall site also
needs an upgrade. It deposits 21,955 pounds of acidity, 1,492
pounds of iron and 758 pounds of aluminum per year.
Denicola’s work also includes preparing a Watershed Based Plan.
Christ said that this plan is a prerequisite for Clean Water Act
Section 319 funds for non-point source pollution cleanup. When
completed, it will be posted on the state Department of
Environmental Protection (DEP) website.
Non-point sources, Christ said, include farm runoff and mines
abandoned before the 1977 federal Surface Mining Control and
Reclamation Act (which allowed coal operators to walk away from
ongoing liabilities with the stipulation that anything they
disturbed after Aug. 3, 1977, would be reclaimed, according to the
The plan includes 13 possible remediation projects, such as Dillan
Creek, Glady Run, Beulah Hollow and Hartman Run.
Also on the list is the Rock Forge Mine discharge. The Rock Forge
mine sits across W.Va. 7 from the Richard Mine, under Eastgate,
Denicola said. It discharges into the creek near the same point as
the Richard Mine.
The Rock Forge discharge is significantly smaller than Richard’s,
Denicola said — only 1,000 pounds of acidity per year. But it
makes sense to take care of it. “If we succeed with the
multi-million dollar Richard Mine project, it would be
embarrassing” to have Rock Forge degrade the last stretch of the