Eric Carlson, Walter E. Fike, Walter N. Heine, Sue
Wilson for Brian Hill, Howard W. Laur, David Osikowicz, Ron Ramsey
for Senator Porterfield, Pat Krommes for Senator Rhoades, Representative
Samuel Smith, Mark Snyder and Fred Wolf.
DER staff present were Robert C. Dolence and Rodney
L. Kelley, Office of Mineral Resources Management; Peter T. Slack,
Evan Shuster, and M. C. McCommons, Bureau of Mining and Reclamation;
Ernest F. Giovannitti and J. Paul Linnan, Bureau of Abandoned
Mine Reclamation; T. J. Ward, Jr. and Matthew A. Bertovich, Bureau
of Deep Mine Safety; Jeff Jarrett, Don Barnes, Gary Byron, C.
R. Greene and Joel Q. Pontorero, Bureau of District Mining Operations;
Sharon Freeman, Office of Policy and Communications; Joe Pizarchik,
Office of Chief Counsel; and Steve Socash, Bureau of Land Recycling
and Waste Management. Also present were Tony Ercole and George
Ellis, Pennsylvania Coal Association.
The minutes of the October 26, 1995 meeting were
KEY OBLIGATIONS FROM THE OCTOBER 26, 1995 MEETING:
Logos for the MRAB letterhead will be sent to
the Board for review. Logos were submitted to Mr. Heine for
his review and selection. The Board concurred with his selection.
A speaker will be asked to brief the Board about
sewage sludge. Mr. Socash spoke on this subject later in the
Secretary Seif will be given copies of the Resolution
and White Paper that had been previously adopted by the Board.
This was done.
The Legislation, Regulation and Technical Committee
will work with DEP to address concerns over the ash regulations
by making recommendations, writing new language, and reviewing
problems in the field. The Committee has been working on this
Staff from the Bureau of Land Recycling and Waste
Management (BLRWM) updated the Board on the Department's biosolids
The term "biosolids" is used to refer
to high quality sludge that can be used as fertilizer. In order
to promote the use of biosolids, the BLRWM proposed new regulations
in October 1994 which included the concept of general permits.
A general permit would permit the generator -- not the site --
so if an operator wanted to apply his biosolids to a different
site, he wouldn't have to get a new site permit. The quality of
the biosolids will be tested periodically depending on the size
of the generator. Federal part 503 regulations focus on sludge
quality and permitting the generator although they are less restrictive
than the BLRWM proposed regulations.
BLRWM received some grant money from the EPA
that was used to hire a consultant to determine whether BLRWM
should accept the federal regulations.
To aid in improving the image of biosolids, 14
conservation districts have agreed to provide information to the
public about biosolids and a professional advertising firm has
been hired to promote their use. A video was also done which can
be borrowed from the BLRWM.
REGULATION, LEGISLATION AND TECHNICAL COMMITTEE:
Since the October MRAB meeting the Committee
has met with DEP staff to review and recommend further changes
to DEP's regulations on the beneficial uses of coal ash for mining
activity reclamation. DEP staff, in turn, have been working together
to follow up on these recommendations. It is anticipated that
most of the concerns will be addressed.
DEP staff has prepared a rough draft of changes
to the coal mining activity regulations, as part of DEP's Regulatory
Basics Initiative (RBI). These changes concern areas of existing
regulations which are "stricter than" federal (OSM)
regulations. Further changes are expected to address other aspects
of the RBI. The Committee expects to hold further meetings with
POLICY AND GENERAL ISSUES COMMITTEE:
A discussion was held concerning changes to the
abandoned mine land trust fund relating to Priority 2, water replacement
and water quality issues. This opens up a different way of using
the funds for watersheds that have a high potential for remining
and improving water quality.
Also discussed was the use of the 10% set-aside
funds. As DEP moves toward water-quality treatment it is getting
into long-term operation and maintenance which means consideration
must be given to who would be responsible for maintaining the
systems, what type of systems they will be and other problems.
The passive treatment systems can be put in the
same watersheds that the District Offices has scheduled for rehabilitation.
STATUS REPORT ON DISTRICT MINING OPERATIONS
CUSTOMER NEEDS PROJECT:
The project was begun because people/industry
wanted to know what they were doing wrong and what they should
DEP needed an understanding and evaluation of
the coal and industrial minerals industries both geographically
and technologically. DEP also needed to know the aims of the environmental
groups in the state.
DEP organized teams in its six district mining
offices. These teams met with 280 customers including 11 environmental
groups and 59 coal operators to learn their areas of concern.
DEP's objective is to have the right staff in
the right place doing the right things.
The data gathering phase is complete. DEP is
presently projecting trends such as what kinds of permits will
be issued, how many, in what district, etc. and also reviewing
certain program areas to see what kinds of changes should be made.
This is expected to be completed soon.
Six specific compliance areas were identified
that needed improvement and it was decided to use the Roundtable
concept to discuss those improvements. Those especially invited
to attend a Roundtable session include staff, the coal and noncoal
industry, blasting representatives, consultants, and environmental
groups because DEP wants those groups to be satisfied with the
final results. It is planned to review the comments and criticism
of attendees and incorporate them into a Program Guidance Manual
A summary of some items to be discussed at the
Inspection: Would like to reduce frequency of
visits to sites that are only grass and instead visit start-up
sites once a week because start-up is when most of the problems
Enforcement: Want to combine six PGMs into one
Compliance Orders: Want to give discretion to
Pattern of Violation: If the violation is not
willful DEP would like to meet with operator and suggest corrections
for voluntary compliance.
Satisfactory Progress: If an operator is working
toward compliance, but taking longer than anticipated, this would
allow inspector to extend more time.
Civil Penalties: Combine all civil penalty PGMs
into one PGM dealing with both coal and noncoal.
Blasting: Emphasis will be on education.
Remining: It is cheaper for an operator to clean
up an abandoned mine land than for DEP to solicit bids.
Remining Incentives: A possible waiver of liability
for pre-existing discharges.
Past Obstacles to Remining: Some past problems
include a lengthy and expensive permitting process that renders
Subchapter Fs undesirable, a disallowance of putting spoils in
an abandoned pit because by doing so the pit would become part
of the mining operation, and requiring operators to take water
samples at the same sites where DEP takes samples
Rehabilitation of Forfeited Operators: This is
a program to allow forfeited operators to come back and make restitution
for past errors.
Compliance Strategies and Assistance: DEP plans
to develop various training programs utilizing industry expertise.
One program will be aimed at the needs of mine superintendents,
foremen, and equipment operators, another is to develop specialty
teams of DER staff in order to offer advise and consultation to
try to eliminate erosion and sedimentation problems and to share
technology in water treatment areas.
It was pointed out that many people have homes
at risk from mine subsidence but no insurance because they are
unaware that insurance exists. DEP is seeking to develop a mechanism
to advertise the best way to make sure people know insurance is
available to them. DEP is also looking at the solvency of the
Mine Subsidence Insurance Fund itself because of changes in Act
The Board was asked to review the Roundtable
Schedule and attend if they were able.
DEP was asked to keep Mr. Heine and Mr. Kelley
informed of the customer needs project so that timely information
could be gotten out to the Board.
Upon motion made, seconded, and carried, the
Board endorsed the Department's process and efforts concerning
the customer needs project as discussed at the meeting. The Board
wants to participate in the process.
UPDATE ON INDIAN CREEK AREA UNSUITABLE FOR
MINING (UFM) PETITION:
The background of this petition was given.
The recommendation to not designate the area
as unsuitable for mining was made to the EQB because DEP felt
there was not enough evidence to make any other designation. The
EQB approved the recommendation for review and comment by the
A Comment and Response document was handed out
to the Board. The Board was asked for some indication whether
they felt DEP was headed in the right direction.
A motion was made and seconded that the Board
draft a letter to the EQB to accept the recommendations of the
Department with regard to Petition No. 26949901 on Indian Creek.
The motion was voted upon and approved.
Mr. Heine abstained from voting.
STATUS REPORT ON OTHER PENDING REGULATION CHANGES:
A copy of the December 16, 1995 Pennsylvania
Bulletin dealing with Coal and Noncoal Mining was handed out.
This contains some final regulation changes necessary to continue
making DEP regulations similar to federal regulations.
A copy of the December 16, 1995 Pennsylvania
Bulletin dealing with Postmining Discharge/Licensing and Bonding
was handed out. This contains a proposed rulemaking package with
a 60-day comment period and public hearings to be held within
a month. The regulations offer a compromise in the way effluent
limits postmining discharges are handled. An operator can adjust
his bond or put up a site-specific trust fund to insure perpetual
(50 years) treatment of a postmining discharge. The regulations
are an elaboration of the law in order to explain how it will
work. The regulations will be discussed with a Committee prior
to final rulemaking.
BOARD ADMINISTRATION AND REQUIREMENTS:
Most correspondence that Board members will be
receiving in the future will be signed by Mr. Heine.
The DEP executive staff wants to be kept aware
of what is to be discussed at both Board and Committee meetings
so the executive staff has an opportunity to offer advice and
The Board and Committees were asked to keep the
three-week deadline in mind for submitting agendas to the executive
staff. Mr. Heine indicated the Board would comply with the request
but noted that if an item that was not on the agenda came up for
discussion during a meeting the Board would discuss it.
CITIZENS ADVISORY COUNCIL REPORT:
The CAC Report on Public Participation was handed
out. It was suggested that there were some recommendations in
the report that the Board might want to consider at a future meeting.
Mr. Heine said he would write a notice about
the MRAB for the Update.
The next meeting will be held on April 25