Contract to reclaim abandoned surface mine in Armstrong County awarded - PA DEP

Project will eliminate dangerous highwall, establish vegetation and stop polluted discharges. Another contract awarded to reclaim orphan oil wells threatening public health, drinking water supplies. In all, nearly $1 million is commited to effort by agency, which is using announcements to again support Growing Greener bond vote May 17...

HARRISBURG, PA, May 11, 2005 (PRNewswire) -- Pa. Environmental Protection Secretary Kathleen A. McGinty announced a $919,328 contract to eliminate a dangerous highwall, remove spoil piles and revegetate a 48-acre abandoned surface mine in West Franklin Township, Armstrong County.

"This reclamation project will restore this abandoned surface mine site to its original contour by backfilling a 3,875-foot-long dangerous highwall with on-site materials," McGinty said. "The site will be revegetated to create hay fields and animal habitat. This is one of thousands of sites in Pennsylvania where unregulated mining practices of the past threaten public safety and the environment, and we will continue our ongoing efforts to reclaim these sites."

The project was awarded to Earthmovers Unlimited Inc. of Kylertown, Clearfield County. Funding for the project comes from a federal fund to clean up abandoned mines. The fund is supported by taxes paid by the active coal- mining industry on every ton of coal it mines.

About 792,000 cubic yards of spoil materials will be used to backfill the 40- to 100-foot-tall highwall. The project also involves relocating a 1.27-acre wetland at the base of the highwall. Construction is expected to take one year to complete.

The site originally was mined by Michigan Limestone Co. in the mid-1940s.

Without new revenue resources, the state faces at least 350 years of mine cleanup. There are 8,529 acres of unreclaimed refuse piles with 258 million tons of waste coal in Pennsylvania. The state has at least 2,000 abandoned and flooding mine pools statewide, discharging polluted water from about 5,000 known points and threatening the health of our rivers and streams. More than 4,000 miles of streams are impaired by polluted mine drainage.

Gov. Ed Rendell's Growing Greener II initiative will provide significant funding to address a vast array of environmental and public health problems at abandoned mine sites. The General Assembly last month agreed on a bipartisan basis with the Governor's efforts by approving a $625 million bond question to improve the state's economic and environmental health. The bond question will appear on the May 17 primary election ballot.

The Governor also has put Pennsylvania in a leadership role in the fight to ensure that Congress reauthorizes a federal mine reclamation fund and that the state secures its fair share. A reauthorization plan put before Congress last legislative session would have increased Pennsylvania's share from $24 million per year to $35 million annually. The fund expires at the end of June.

For more information on abandoned mine reclamation, visit the department's website at www.dep.state.pa.us, Keyword: "Abandoned Mines."

In related news, see: "PA DEP awards contract to plug eight abandoned oil wells in Armstrong County"

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