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Thursday, August 7, 2014

DEP, DCNR Break Ground on Major Coal Refuse Pile Reclamation Project in Greene County

DEP, DCNR Break Ground on Major Coal Refuse Pile Reclamation Project in Greene County

PITTSBURGH -- The departments of Environmental Protection (DEP) and Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) today hosted a groundbreaking ceremony to mark the start of the Mather refuse coal pile reclamation project. The project will use silt from the bed of Duke Lake at Ryerson Station State Park to reclaim a waste coal pile and assist with the restoration of a recreational lake for the residents of Greene County.

“This reclamation project will remove a decades-old refuse pile that has been an eyesore and safety hazard for the residents of Mather,” DEP Deputy Secretary for Active and Abandoned Mine Operations John Stefanko said. “DEP is pleased to work with its partners in the legislature, other state agencies and the local government of Greene County to make this happen.”

Deputy Secretary Stefanko was joined by Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Ellen Ferretti and local legislators Senator Tim Solobay and Representative Pam Snyder.

The Mather refuse coal pile covers 70 acres and was once part of the Mather Mine, which began operations in 1917 and was abandoned in 1964. A small portion of the pile has been burning for the past several years.

The pile sits adjacent to a residential neighborhood and there is concern for the safety of the residents. Although the site is fenced off, it has become a popular area for ATV’s and other activities. The erosion and some steep cuts in the coal pile present a clear danger to anyone riding or walking in that area.

As a part of the remediation project, the coal refuse will be graded, compacted and covered with two feet of silt excavated from the bottom of Duke Lake. The project also includes plans to stabilize the stream bank on the South Fork of Ten Mile Creek.

In a cooperative effort with DCNR, 400,000 cubic yards of soil from the bottom of Duke Lake at Ryerson Station State Park will be excavated to cover the pile. DCNR is removing the silt from the lake bottom to begin its dam reconstruction project.

“This project is a great example of state agencies working together, as DCNR needed a place to put silt removed from Duke Lake and DEP was looking to complete the mine reclamation work at the Mather site,” said DCNR Secretary Ellen Ferretti. “We’re pleased that the lake sediments can be used constructively.”

Duke Lake at Ryerson Station State Park in Greene County was drawn down in July 2005 for safety reasons after inspections of the dam uncovered cracks and water seepage. In 2013, DCNR and CONSOL Energy announced a settlement that will result in the replacement of the dam. The dam replacement project is currently in the permitting process.

The refuse pile reclamation project is funded by a federal Abandoned Mine Lands Title IV grant, provided by a tonnage fee assessed on the coal industry. The soil removal at Duke Lake Dam is funded by the settlement with Consol Energy.

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