OSM determines timbering on Curry site is related to mining

The backstory…

We’ve been wrangling with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and Amerikhol Mining over erosion & sedimentation issues on the Curry mine site along the Yough in Dunbar Township for nearly a year now (for more information, see our January 8, 2014 blog post and our Winter 2014 newsletter).

Is logging in preparation for mining a mining activity? We think so.

In November 2013 and again in early January 2014 our Yough Riverkeeper filed complaints with the federal Office of Surface Mining (OSM) regarding the sedimentation that was pouring into the Yough from logging on the Curry site (see graphic below).  DEP maintained the logging was not a mining issue and that they had no jurisdiction.  OSM, which years ago granted DEP the right to oversee mining operations in Pennsylvania but which maintains some degree of oversight), issued a ten-day notice (essentially, the process by which OSM can initiate oversight of mining sites which are permitted by states).  DEP requested that OSM complete an informal review of this ten-day notice, once again asserting the agency was not responsible for conditions on the Curry Mine site.

131230 runoff graphic copy

Good news!  OSM agrees!

The outcome of that informal review was released yesterday.  OSM found that DEP’s response to the ten-day notice to be “arbitrary, capricious, or an abuse of discretion.” OSM now plans a federal inspection of the Curry mine.  So, what does this really mean?  It means OSM has found that the logging on the Curry site is indeed a mining activity and one that is being done to facilitate the mining, so it must be regulated by the DEP Bureau of Mining. This is great news, because when these issues first started to occur in Spring 2013 we alerted several agencies and none were willing to assert jurisdiction over the issues– or take steps to fix them and stop the pollution flowing freely into the Yough.  OSM has made clear this is an issue DEP must regulate.  If you’d like to see the full determination letter please contact Krissy.