Mining and Reclamation Advisory Board
Ad Hoc Committee for Reclamation Issues

May 27, 1999 Meeting



At its May 27, 1999 meeting in Brockway, the Ad Hoc Committee for Reclamation Issues discussed a number of issues and makes the following report and recommendations to the Mining and Reclamation Advisory Board:


1.                  We again raise the need for better interbureau and interprogram cooperation.  Many sites, both traditional reclamation and some not-so-traditional, have multiple problems and/or innovative solutions which would be best addressed by multi‑media and multi-program coordination and cooperation.


This issue has been discussed numerous times in the past (e.g., Bark Camp), but needs to be continually reinforced.  DEP needs to break out of the medium-specific program-specific mode and attack environmental problems and issues with multi‑media coordination.


One example, which was the impetus for this discussion, is a local 'dump' (closed landfill) which has multiple problems, including the fact that it was previously mined.  The multiple problems at this site need the involvement of multiple programs to address them.  Each of these sites may be unique, but their existence is not; many such sites may exist across the Commonwealth.


Such sites, even if not primarily reclamation sites, need to be included in setting priorities on a watershed basis.  The Comprehensive Mine Reclamation Plan cannot operate in a vacuum, but must coordinate with other programs for overall impact in a watershed; watershed restoration (which may need to address other quality concerns such as sewage) should be our focus, not just reclamation.


A related question was raised about how local groups can find out what information is available, and what is being/has already been done to study/address a situation.  We would hope that information such as water quality test results, etc., would eventually be available on GIS, but how can we make this information available (or even let others know it exists) now?


We expect to soon receive further information on the specific site, but the committee felt that these questions should be raised generically as soon as possible.  We ask the Board to formally urge better interprogram coordination and cooperation on a site-specific basis.  There needs to be more coordination, communication and cross-training between the deputates, bureaus and programs.


2.                  We also discussed some issues related to independent power producers.  By burning waste coal piles, these facilities are remediating some significant environmental concerns, and simultaneously producing power.  We question why the efforts being conducted by these facilities are not included in incentives being provided under Reclaim PA.  We need to discuss some of the issues further but the committee generally supports the concept of incorporating these efforts into Reclaim PA and hopefully developing some means of providing incentives, since many recent actions have worked against the continued existence of these beneficial facilities.  We ask the Board to recommend that DEP consider this recommendation and report back to the Board at its next meeting on how it could be implemented.


3.                  Finally, we discussed the need for the Department to help facilitate the exchange of materials that have potential uses for reclamation and remediation.  For example, the Sweet Soil site is successfully using locally derived paper waste and by-product lime for reclamation purposes.  These 'waste' streams would otherwise be destined for disposal in a landfill, but can instead be used to address another environmental problem.  Unfortunately, matching sources with users has not occurred since wastes are traditionally disposed of, not considered as a resource.  This wastes potentially valuable resources while also taking up landfill space that could be better reserved for waste actually requiring disposal.


The Citizens Advisory Council (CAC) has initiated a project on how to promote the recycling of organic materials rather than dispose of all of them.  CAC has raised the idea of creating a 'resource listing' on DEP's web site for the reuse of certain organic materials.  The Ad Hoc Committee for Reclamation Issues feels this would also aid reclamation efforts.


An organics resources clearinghouse would allow organizations to find and trade sources of materials for reuse rather than disposal.  The Department could develop a pilot that would allow sources and users of a limited number of 'safe' waste streams (e.g., paper waste, by-produce lime, etc.) that could be used to aid in reclamation.  If this pilot has a positive impact in expediting the transfer of such resources, then it could be expanded to include other types of waste, always in keeping with the priority of protecting public and environmental health and safety.


The Committee asks the Board to lend its support to the exploration of such a resource exchange.