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Attorney Brian Buniva, center, makes a point
at Monday's hearing while Jerry Ward, left and
County Attorney Mickey McGlothlin listen. (Staff
photo/Cathy St. Clair.)
Makes Its Case to VMRC for Permit
Cathy St. Clair
flowing into the Buchanan #1 mine is not removed, the mine
will be flooded and will have to be abandoned, Dr. Jim Roberts
told members of the Virginia Marine Resources Commission,
Monday in support of a request before the VMRC to issue a
permit to allow the company to construct a diffuser system in
the Levisa River to disperse the mine water into the Levisa.
a professional engineer hired by CONSOL as a consultant on its
plans to permit the mine water discharge, is a founder of
Civil and Environmental Consultants Inc.
gave a brief project overview and a powerpoint presentation to commissioners attending the public hearing by
video-teleconference Monday (see related story, page one).
summarized the importance of the project to CONSOL.
said the company has already filled the Beatrice and VP1 mine
voids with the water coming from Buchanan #1, coupled with
natural water now seeping into those abandoned underground
water is being stored in VP3 and he said it is from there the
company plans to pump it into storage tanks and then into the
Levisa River mixing zone area which the company is seeking to
Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy has approved
the discharge permit, however that approval is now under
appeal. In the meantime, the company is seeking the VMRC
permit it needs to construct the diffuser and is finishing up
construction of a $17 million overland pipeline to carry the
water from the mine site to the river discharge point.
inflow rates into the Buchanan mine, Roberts said, are
projected at 1,500 to 3,000 gallons per minute over the next
17 years of the Buchanan mine’s projected life.
noted Buchanan #1 is the largest mining operation in the state
of Virginia, employing 443 people with an annual payroll of
$29.9 million. He suggested that economic models showed the
mine creates some 1,772 indirect jobs as well. Additionally,
he said the mine pays both state and local taxes as a result
of its operation in Buchanan County.
at Buchanan #1 in the next 17 years, he said are projected at
$7.2 billion based on proven reserves and using what Roberts
called a conservative coal value estimate of some $60 per ton.
said the company had considered five alternatives in how to
address the need to rid Buchanan #1 of excess water, but he
said the untreated discharge is the most cost effective.
only two the company considered feasible are the planned
discharge or treatment by reverse osmosis, Roberts said.
suggested if the company were to use reverse osmosis or
electrodialysis to treat the water prior to discharge, it had
been deemed by the company to be “prohibitively expensive”
considering an initial capital investment of $20 million and
operational costs of $5 million annually for reverse osmosis.
Over the 17-year life of the mine, he said, that would amount
to a cost to the company of some $105 million.
he suggested reverse osmosis would potentially not be reliable
due to the nature of mine water and because the mine pump
discharge would be intermittent.
said the Buchanan mine water quality is high in chlorides and
sodium and would have high conductivity and total dissolved
solids due to chlorides and sodium content. He said the
salinity levels render it one-quarter as salty as the ocean.
The water has a neutral PH, low levels of iron which he said
require simple treatment. Lab tests have shown it to be
colorless and odorless.
levels, he added would be 35 parts Levisa to one part of mine
For more of the story,
see the print edition of the Mountaineer, on sale at
newsstands now. For more information on how to subscribe
to the Mountaineer, call 276-935-2123 today.
Ask VMRC to Deny Permit
Seeks Approval from State Agency
Cathy St. Clair
speakers attending a Virginia Marine Resources Commission public
hearing Monday told commissioners that the VMRC was the Levisa
River’s last hope for protection from a planned mine water
discharge by Consolidation Coal Company.
the commission’s permit to construct a diffuser system in the
river bed, they suggested, the discharge won’t be possible.
attorneys argued on behalf of the company that monitoring systems
built in to the project will ensure that river water quality
levels as a result of the discharge will be what Department of
Environmental Quality water quality regulations allow (see related
story, this issue).
speakers at the hearing, however, were skeptical.
hearing was held by video teleconference on the campus of
Southwest Virginia Community College in Richlands while five of
nine VMRC commissioners attended the hearing from across the state
in Hampton Roads.
Bowling asked the commission to consider the Levisa River in the
same light they would the James River or the Chesapeake Bay. He
asked commissioners to consider how they would vote if the mine
water discharge being planned by Consolidation Coal Company was
planned to occur in those bodies of water and further requested
that they apply that same consideration in rendering a decision
when they look at the Levisa River.
Environment Engineer Randal Owen gave a brief powerpoint
presentation on the proposed project in order to give
commissioners and overview of the project.
CONSOL has received approval from the Department of Mines,
Minerals and Energy to conduct the discharge, however that permit
approval is now under appeal.
discharge plans calls for water from Buchanan #1 to be transported
to VP3 and then pumped from there to a storage tank to be released
into the river. Construction of a $17 million overland pipeline to
transport the mine water is nearing completion now, despite the
fact the company does not yet have all the permits necessary to
conduct the discharge and despite the fact that the main permit
allowing the discharge is now under appeal, County Attorney Mickey
McGlothlin pointed out during his presentation. No permit was
required for construction of the pipeline.
diffuser pipe itself, has already been purchased by the company
and is now stored at VP3.
is now requesting permission to install the diffuser pipe in the
riverbed which will involve the excavation of a two-foot deep
trench in the river bed for a distance of 60 to 70 feet, Owen
explained. Four diffuser outfall pipes will then protrude from the
riverbed and be protected by what were described as
concrete-filled steel pipe bollards to protect the pipes from any
noted the river is already considered to be an impaired stream.
related to the discharge, he added, have already been issued by
the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the DEQ and DMME, although that
permit approval is now being appealed.
The Office of Surface Mining and the Environmental
Protection Agency have concurred with decisions made by other
regulatory agencies thus far.
lacks only the VMRC permit to be able to do this,” Owen
explained to commissioners.
VMRC’s consideration of the permit requested now is limited to
the impact of the physical encroachment of the construction of the
diffuser system in the river, it was noted. The commission has no
controls or ability to regulate the effluents from the diffuser,
it was explained.
McNeely was the first citizen speaker at Monday’s hearing.
more of the story, see the print edition of the Mountaineer,
on sale at newsstands now. For more information on how to
subscribe to the Mountaineer, call 276-935-2123 today.