MINING AND RECLAMATION ADVISORY BOARD

July 9 and 10, 1998

Best Western Inn and Conference Center

DuBois, PA

 

This meeting was comprised of field tours on Thursday, July 9, followed by the regular meeting on Friday, July 10. Although not operated under Robertís Rules of Order, the Thursday tours provided constructive dialogue that is summarized below.

 

Thursday, July 9, 1998

Members in attendance: Fred Wolf, Chairman, Jack Chamberlin, Dr. Brian Redmond, Mike Young, David Osikowicz, David Strong, Representative Sam Smith and Steve Shrawder.

Others in attendance: Margaret Urban-Pickering, citizen; George Ellias, Kocher Coal Company; and Dave Hogeman, Rod Fletcher, Bob Dolence, Mick McCommons, Joe Pizarchik, Paul Linnan, Kent Schumaker, Steve Starner, Bernard Hoffnar, and Michelle Miller of DEP.

At 9:15 a.m. Paul Linnan, Bark Camp Project Manager, gave an overview of the past yearís activities and current status at the site. Kent Schumaker, the Departmentís full time inspector was introduced. Paul explained the intimate involvement of the Houston Township Supervisors and their Environmental Committee. The Township retains Robert Bruce, P.E., of Sweetland Engineering & Associates from State College for consulting services regarding this project. Paul emphasized that the success to date of the project can be attributed in part to local involvement. With their welcome input and open access, the local community is supporting the river silt and ash reclamation demonstration.

A summary of the operational details presented by Paul is as follows: The river siltís point of origin is Perth Amboy, New Jersey. It is screened and mixed with 15 to 25 percent fly ash from U.S. Generatingís coal fired circulating fluidized bed combustion unit. The material is loaded into flat bottomed gondola rail cars, covered with heavy tarpaulins to keep precipitation out during transport, then transported to Bark Camp. At Bark Camp, the material is unloaded into 40-ton off-highway trucks and taken to the mixing area via the upgraded haul road. The material is dumped, then mixed with fly ash from the Piney Power CFB plant in Clarion County and kiln dust from Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, in the on site pug mill. The total ash and kiln dust that provides the pozzolanic reaction is averaging around 40 to 45 percent of the total weight. The final mixed material is transported to the reclamation area, dumped and allowed to "rest" for a day before it is spread and compacted in place.

After the Boardís questions were addressed, the group departed DuBois at 9:45 a.m. and arrived at the site at approximately 10:00 a.m. The entire operation was observed and discussed at each phase: the rail car unloading; off-highway truck transport to the mixing area, the pub mill operation, and the abandoned mine reclamation area.

There were productive discussions during the entire site visit. One area of focussed dialogue was the manner in which soil material will be placed to ensure it does not "wash out." The concern is that the manufactured structural fill, the river silt and ash is so hard, the cover material may have a tendency to slide on the out slope. The most repeated comment was the overall improvements at the site from the cleaning of the entrance area, the construction of the staging area, the erosion and sedimentation controls and the haul road. The extensive background and continuing ground and surface water monitoring as well as random material sampling was positively received.

The group departed the Bark Camp site at 11:20 a.m. and drove to the Toby Creek Treatment Plant. During lunch at the treatment plant, Bob Dolence, Deputy Secretary, explained the details of the news release dated July 2, 1998, regarding the stock holders of the parent company of Consolidated Technologies, Inc., the Departmentís contractor at Bark Camp. The Department sent notification on July 1 to two stockholders, Charles Schultes and Mark Alsentzer, of U.S. Plastic Lumber, a publicly traded Nevada Corporation headquartered in Boca Raton, Florida, that they have 120 days to take appropriate action to remove their effective control of CTI. CTI is a wholly owned subsidiary of Clean Earth, Inc. which is a wholly owned subsidiary of USPL. This action was taken per a 1992 agreement signed by Schultes and Alsentzer with the Department. The involvement of Schultes and Alsentzer came to the Departmentís attention on June 10, after the final and full acquisition of CTI by Clean Earth on May 27.

The plant manager, Jim Caribardi; of the Toby Creek Treatment plant gave a walk through discussion and a tour of the entire operation. The presentation included the research demonstration project of high-pressure carbon dioxide entrained treatment with limestone. Mr. Brian Vinci, a Ph.D. candidate at Cornell University, described the technology. Once proven successful, the vessels being tested at Toby Creek will be transferred to the U.S. Department of Interiorís National Park at Friendship Hill, Fayette County, to treat acid mine drainage.

Discussions were detailed and involved. A repeated criticism to the Department was inadequate outreach and education for the activities the Board visited. Strong recommendations were made for more active outreach.

The tours concluded in the late afternoon with the return to the Best Western Inn in DuBois.

 

Friday, July 10, 1998

Members in attendance: Fred Wolf, Chairman, Jack Chamberlin, Dr. Brian Redmond, Mike Young, David Osikowicz, David Strong, Jeff Clukey, Duane Feagley and Pat Krommes.

Others in attendance: Margaret Urban-Pickering, citizen; John Blaschak, Fisher Mining Company; and Dave Hogeman, Rod Fletcher, Bob Dolence, Mick McCommons, Joe Pizarchik, Gary Byron, Joe Siels and Michelle Miller of DEP.

The meeting was called to order at 9:35 a.m.

Chairman Wolf opened the meeting and introduced those in attendance.

The minutes of the April 16, 1998 full Board quarterly meeting were motioned for adoption by Dave Strong, seconded by Jack Chamberlin and unanimously approved.

The minutes of the May 20, 1998 joint meeting of the Ad Hoc Committee for Reclamation Issues and the Regulation, Legislative and Technical (R, L &T) Committee were motioned for adoption by Dave Strong, seconded by Jack Chamberlin and unanimously approved.

 

JOINT AD HOC AND R, L & T COMMITTEES REPORT

GIS, Good Samaritan Legislation and Design Based Standards

David Osikowicz gave an overview of the joint meeting. Three topics were the focus of the May 20 meeting: Geographic Information System, Good Samaritan Legislation and Design-Based Standards to enhance reclamation through remining. The GIS is an exciting tool being developed by the Department that is very encompassing. The board is interested in testing the prototype when it is available. There is broad-based support for the Good Samaritan Legislation. The discussions were enhanced with the participation of Board member Representative Sam Smith, who introduced the legislation last session. The Board recognizes the potential for reclamation under the Reclaim PA initiative of Design Based Standards. There is continued Board support for continued development of design based standards by the Department and the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

Bark Camp Mine Reclamation Laboratory.

Dave Strong, Ad Hoc Committee Chair, agreed with the overview presented by David Osikowicz. Mr. Strong introduced his thoughts on the site visit at the Bark Camp Mine Reclamation Laboratory and specifically, the river silt and fly ash reclamation project. The Board emphasized how impressive the site looks and the improvements over last year. It was stressed to the Department to continue its close and comprehensive monitoring of the activities. Two areas need to be explored: the "cover material slippage" due to the interface of the hard material to the cover material; and how the operation will function in freezing conditions of winter. Recognition was given to Paul Linnan and Kent Schumaker for their involvement and subsequent improvements at the site.

Reed and Strattanville Reclamation Activity.

At the request of the board, Rod Fletcher, Bureau Director for Mining and Reclamation, gave a status report of the activities associated with the Reed and Strattanville reclamation project in Clarion County. The last meeting with the groups and the Department was in early April. The groups subsequently wrote to the Department asking to defer the next meetings so they could focus on putting an alternative proposal together. The Department has made contact with the five suggested individuals to comprise the independent review committee.

It was explained the independent review committee will make a recommendation to the Department whether or not alternative proposals will likely meet the reclamation standards that were established in the court sanctioned CO&A. The Department is not authorized to delegate decision-making, therefore the independent review committee will make a recommendation to the Department for consideration. The status of the approved flyash cap project was requested. As explained to the Clarion groups, the Department tabled that project pending the outcome of discussions and whether an alternate proposal was determined to meet the reclamation standards.

The project bonding requirements were described to the Board. If a proposal is determined to meet the reclamation standards, surface reclamation and effluent standards, and the proposal is moved forward, the Department will need to have a bond equal to the projectís projected cost. That option applies only if the surety remains involved. If the surety does not continue its participation, and the Department has to contract the work under the Bureau of Abandoned Mine Reclamation, the bond requirement would increase to 210% of the projectís worth as per Commonwealth contracting rules.

 

NEW AGENDA ITEMS

Chapter 86, Unsuitable for Mining regulations

Mick McCommons of the Bureau of Mining and Reclamation presented the history of the UFM regulations. The intent was to provide a process for UFM determinations that would allow the decisions on UFM petitions to be made within 12 months of the Department accepting the petition as provided in state and federal law. In 1996, the MRAB discussed at length whether the UFM process should be by regulation or adjudicatory. The MRAB recommended it be changed to an adjudicatory process. Due to concerns of continued public participation and requirements of the Administrative Code, the Department retained the regulatory process and proposed regulations for public comment in October of 1997.

Representing regulatory counsel, Joe Pizarchik explained the history of the Administrative Code and why the legislature changed it in the early 1990s after petitions were submitted for noncoal areas. There was considerable discussion and debate on the state regulation being "as effective as" the federal counterpart and how the state would meet the intent of the federal and state laws. At issue was the allowed study time of ten months limited by the public hearing and the decision to be made within sixty days of the public hearing.

Dave Osikowicz made a motion reading, "The MRAB recommends to the Department, that the Department consider limiting the time to hold the public hearing to nine months in place of the existing ten month allowance. Mike Young seconded the motion. The motion passed with five votes for, two votes against.

A second issue was raised concerning the regulatory package regarding the Departmentís position in that the comment and response document may conflict with federal standards. Specifically, under the discussion of advised consent, the Department would require any waivers obtained from property owners prior to August 3, 1977 (a.k.a., 20 years old), be "re-obtained" to assure the person(s) granting the waiver were informed of their waiver. The discussion focused on two points, the authority or lack of authority for the Department to apply a retroactive standard; and that the federal standard did not require this.

The Department offered to revisit the issue that had been raised. Chairman Wolf acknowledged the departmentís offer. Mike Young motioned, "the MRAB recommends the Department to amend its regulation and comment and response document to reflect the federal regulations and intent under 30 CFR 76.12(e)2." Dave Osikowicz seconded the motion, which passed with five yes votes, zero no votes and one abstention.

Proposed OSM AML Enhancement rule

Mike Young gave an overview of the proposed OSM AML rule. Dave Hogeman and Gary Byron explained that DEP had submitted similar program amendments to OSM previously and we were expecting OSM approval within a month. The federal and state changes will provide more flexibility in AML contract work resulting in more restoration and reclamation of abandoned mine lands. It was approved by the Board unanimously that Chairman Wolf send a letter to OSM prior to the close of the comment period in support of the proposed changes. Chairman Wolf requested Mike Young to draft the letter and offered all members to provide in put in the letter if they so desired.

Reclaim PA: Status of Initiatives

Dave Hogeman, Division Chief in the Bureau of Mining and Reclamation and the Reclaim PA project co-manager, provided an update of the various initiatives under Reclaim PA.

The Department has been working closely with OSMís Appalachian Regional Office to obtain approval of the AML program amendment. Under the Comprehensive Plan for Abandoned Mine Reclamation, special emphasis is made for baseline environmental assessments. Various federal agencies either already require similar assessments or are in the process of developing their own requirements. Pennsylvania is encouraging the various agencies to delineate their requirements so they can be incorporated into the CPAMR, thus giving watershed groups a single target to hit when developing restoration plans.

The MRAB was also invited to submit its thoughts on how a review group could be structured to evaluate determinations of worth made by the Department under the CPAMR. Members of the Board were encouraged by the invitation with interesting discussions following.

Election of Committee Chairs

All committees retained their existing chairs. The Committee Chairpersons and members are as follows:

Chair: Dr. Redmond

Members: Walter Heine, John Ford, Steven Shrawder, Pat Sicilio, Mark Snyder and the Honorable Anthony Colaizzo

Chair: David Oskowicz

Members: Susan Wilson and David Strong, Jack Chamberlin, the Honorable James Rhoades, the Honorable Samuel Smith, the Honorable Raphael Musto

Chair: David Strong

Members: Jeff Clukey, Susan Wilson, Mike Young, Mark Snyder, Jack Chamberlin, Duane Feagley, Robert Hughes and Fred Wolf

Chair: Michelle Miller

Members: Fred Wolf, Jeff Clukey, Susan Wilson and Mike Young

Annual Report Status

Michelle Miller provided an overview on the development of the Annual Report. Not all committees have submitted their annual report material. The report, and the committee material, will be written by topic, not chronologically. All input must be submitted to Michelle by July 31.

The draft report will be written and forwarded to all Board members for their individual comments. These will be incorporated into a final report that will be discussed at the next quarterly meeting. This should allow publishing to occur in 1998.

Next Meeting

The next meeting is scheduled for Thursday, October 15, to be held in Harrisburg at the Rachel Carson State Office Building.

Adjournment

The meeting was adjourned at 10:52 a.m.