APRIL 24, 1997


16th Fl., Rachel Carson State Office Building

Delaware Room


Members Present:  Walter Heine, Chairman, Duane Feagley, David Strong, Pat Krommes, Fred Wolf, Jack Chamberlin, Rep. Sam Smith, David Osikowicz, Ron Ramsey, Mark Snyder, Howard Laur, John Ford, Sue Germanio, Steve Shrawder, and George Ellis.


Also present were:  Deputy Secretary Robert Dolence and Rodney Kelley, Office of Mineral Resources Management; Richard Stickler, Bureau of Deep Mine Safety; Rod Fletcher and Evan Shuster, Bureau of Mining and Reclamation; Joe Pizarchik, Office of Chief Counsel, Bud Friedrich, Bureau of Abandoned Mine Reclamation; Joe Sieber, Office of Policy; and Alan Tamm, Gannett Fleming.


­The meeting was called to order at 12:30 p.m.


­The minutes from the December 12, 1996 meeting were approved.


­Two new members to the board, Jack Chamberlin, Fike Surveying and Consulting, and David Strong, Citizens’ Advisory Council, were introduced and welcomed by the chairman.


­Deputy Secretary Dolence introduced Mr. Richard Stickler to the board.  Mr. Stickler is the new director for the Bureau of Deep Mine Safety.




There are no outstanding obligations at this time.




The committee met on April 24 to discuss several documents.  They were:  Technical Guidance Document for the Beneficial Uses of Coal Ash, Certification Guidelines for Beneficial Uses of Coal Ash, and revisions of Chapter 86, Postmining Discharges/Licensing and Bonding.  Mr. Wolf, Chairman of that committee, presented their report.


Technical Guidance Document for the Beneficial Uses of Coal Ash:

The board agreed with the findings of the committee that the language may be more stringent than the corresponding regulations.  Since operators can’t always prove what result they will get when using fly ash, it was suggested that the first sentence in Section A, Coal Ash Placement, be changed to reflect the federal laws more effectively.  The sentence would then state:  “Coal ash placement for beneficial use may be used at active coal mine sites and abandoned mine sites to improve water quality or prevent groundwater degradation.”  The Bureau of Mining and Reclamation (BMR) staff will look into changing the wording of that sentence.

Certification Guidelines for the Beneficial Uses of Coal Ash:

The committee presented the following recommendations:


­     Unannounced spot checks by DEP inspectors may help with quality control

­     Operators should allow access to samples for more quality control checks

­     The ground water at the site should be monitored as well to be sure the ash is being applied properly.


The board also agreed that periodic sampling should be done at the site to ensure that the fly ash is being used beneficially.  BMR staff will incorporate these suggestions into the document.


Several others concerns were raised by the board.  The first is that coal ash is now becoming very hard to find because it is being used in many reclamation projects.  Some members also felt that the anthracite region should be given first priority.  Due to the deregulation of the electric companies, the co-generation plants that produce the ash may be sold.  If that should happen, there would be even less coal ash available to use in reclamation activities.


Motion made, seconded, to accept changes to the guidelines as presented by the committee.  Passed unanimously.


Chapter 86, Postmining Discharges/Licensing and Bonding:


This draft proposed rulemaking was revised due to comments made by the Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC).  Only the revisions were presented to the board for comment.  The main concern of the IRRC was the calculations used to determine the financial assurances for the long-term treatment of postmining discharges.  BMR staff incorporated the use of an index to determine the interest and inflation figures.  The use of a formula instead of numbers will eliminate the need to have a periodic review of the regulation.  The definition of “n”, a term in the formula, was also revised.


Motion made, seconded, to accept the revisions to the document as recommended by the committee.  Passed unanimously.





This committee met on February 21, 1997, to discuss the Alternative Financing Mechanisms for the Perpetual Treatment of Postmining Discharges.  Representative Sam Smith was the chairman for that meeting.  The committee felt that the report was good.  It needed a few things added to it for completeness.  Many of the alternatives were discussed by the committee, however, it felt that there should be a broader selection of alternatives presented in the report.  It recommended that the Department review the comments that were made before they move forward with the report, which it felt is not ready at this time and more evaluations should be done.


Motion made, seconded, that the MRAB will pass on the 8 recommendations of the Ad-Hoc Committee to the Department for their consideration.  Passed unanimously.




Chairman - Fred Wolf was nominated.  Walter Heine declined the nomination.  Fred Wolf was elected as the new chairman


Vice-Chairman - Mark Snyder was nominated.  He was elected the new vice-chairman.


Policy Committee - Dr. Redmond remains the chairman of this committee.


Technical Committee - Dave Osikowicz is the new chairman of this committee.




­  The list of alternates was reviewed and updated.


­     Deputy Secretary Dolence informed the board that the Department decided to move forward with the regulatory process of reviewing Unsuitable for Mining Petitions.  The Department decided to keep the EQB in the review process.  This is being done against the recommendation of the MRAB, who had voted to support the adjudicatory process at a previous meeting.  The MRAB will stand on record as supporting the adjudicatory process.


­     There is an open house being planned at the Bark Camp Mine Reclamation Laboratory.  This is being done to introduce people to the site and the work being done there before any material is brought in.  The Department is trying to counter any negative impressions the public might have about the site.


­     The Pennsylvania Coal Association is developing some potential remining incentives.  They will present these to the board in the near future.


­     The Department is taking a look at the Abandoned Mine Land problem in Pennsylvania.  It is planning to present a multi-year plan rather than case-by-case planning to the Office of Surface Mining.  This plan should help alleviate the funding problem.  DEP may look for MRAB involvement on this issue.


The next meeting will be held on July 10, 1997.  This will be held in DuBois, Clearfield County.  On Friday, July 11 there will be a field trip to the Bark Camp Mine Reclamation Laboratory.


The meeting was adjourned at 2:20 p.m.