OSM Actions on Curry Mine Affirmed

On September 8, Administrative Law Judge Harvey Sweitzer with the U.S. Department of the Interior issued a decision on Amerikohl’s request for review of the Office of Surface Mining’s cessation order requiring that the¬†Curry mine site be stabilized after extensive logging.

Our involvement in this issue goes back several years (see history below), and our interest stems from protecting the high-quality Youghiogheny River into which this site ultimately drains.

The decision demonstrates clearly that Amerikohl and the property owner coordinated on the logging conducted on the property, despite Amerikohl stating earlier that the logging was not done to facilitate mining and should not be considered a mining activity.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s Bureau of Mining had asserted that since mining equipment had not been moved onto the site the logging was not to be considered a mining activity.

The decision makes clear that in this case, the logging was indeed conducted¬†to facilitate surface mining and as a result of that, Amerikohl¬†should have constructed appropriate erosion and sedimentation controls to prevent the flow of turbid water into the high-quality Youghiogheny River. ¬†PADEP’s Bureau of Mining wrong in not considering this to be a mining activity and regulating it as such.

From the decision:

“Mr. Curry did virtually everything he could to facilitate mining through his logging practices.” (page 12)

“The coordination and cooperation between Curry and Amerikohl connected Curry’s logging activity to surface mining and therefore caused that logging activity to be a surface mining activity under Pennsylvania law.” (page 15)

“PADEP’s conclusion that Amerikohl was not involved in the timbering activity was factually incorrect. ¬†As discussed above, Amerikohl was significantly involved in timbering at the Curry Mine. ¬†Additionally, because Curry was doing so many things to facilitate mining operations through its timbering activities, the timbering itself was a surface mining activity¬†subject to PADEP’s regulatory authority.” (page 16)

To read the full decision, please click here.

Since this appeal was filed, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s Waterways and Wetlands Division stepped in and issued a citation requiring the timbering company and property owner (Mr. Curry) to stabilize the site, and erosion has slowed as a result. ¬†Nonetheless, this decision is important because it affirms that logging on a permitted mining site is a mining activity which should be regulated by the Bureau of Mining– and for which the mining company is ultimately responsible.

Our involvement and repeated complaints ensured the erosion and sedimentation issues were addressed.  To make a contribution to support this work, please click here.

More information about this issue is available here:

OSM Issues Cessation Order to Amerikohl, Amerikohl Appeals

Timbering on Curry Mine Site Pollutes the Yough

OSM Determines Timbering on Curry Mine Site is Related to Mining

MWA Accompanies OSM On Curry Mine Inspection