Public Meeting on Proposed Coal Activity in South Huntington

On February 3, 2020 the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) will hold a virtual meeting where residents can voice their concerns about a Government Financed Construction Contract (GFCC) project that will extract 350,000 tons of coal from a South Huntington site. 

On its own, the proposal to remove abandoned coal refuse and remediate the site seems like a welcome improvement to the region. However, it appears to be just the first step in a larger process.

The 17-acre “Soberdash” GFCC site is one of three adjoining parcels that Robindale Energy has shown interest in developing. If successful, the 17-acre site could potentially be the first stage of creating a 100+ acre facility that will store and process coal refuse. Such a development could be beneficial to Robindale’s operations since their subsidiary, LCT Energy, operates several coal mines in the surrounding counties, including the 3,000 acre Rustic Ridge Deep Mine in Donegal and Saltlick Townships. 

A recent article by the Tribune-Review emphasized that “the DEP has not received any applications for use of the site once it’s reclaimed.” However, neighbors are concerned that the goal of remediation would be negated if Robindale was successful in its proposal to place what would likely be much larger quantities of coal refuse onto a neighboring property. 

The three properties Robindale has shown involvement with, are: 

  1. GFCC: a government financed reclamation project on roughly 17 acres,
  2. Refuse Processing: Robindale offered to lease almost 117 acres, currently owned by the Clean Streams Foundation (CSF), in order to create a coal refuse processing area, 
  3. Prep-Plant: Robindale submitted a pre-application to construct a coal cleaning “Prep-Plant” on 27.2 acres. The application lapsed in August of 2020 and it is not clear if Robindale is abandoning that aspect of the development or simply revising to submit again at a later date.

Residents are concerned that Robindale may be approaching the site in a piecemeal way, in order to ease their permitting process and limit opposition from residents. 

Refuse Processing

In December of 2018, Robindale contacted the Clean Streams Foundation (CSF) with a lease offer for the land abutting the proposed prep plant site, and nearby the GFCC property. The lease was for the entirety of CSF’s land, which totals approximately 117 acres . 

CSF owns the property as a part of a trust agreement with the state, in which the foundation operates and maintains a mine drainage treatment system (the Delmont Treatment System) which prevents a mine discharge from contaminating Sewickley Creek. Robindale’s lease offered to pay a per-ton fee for all material disposed of at the site. The lease also offered to take over responsibility for the “the collection and treatment of the discharges.” This would result in a savings of roughly $200,000 a year to the foundation. 

If CSF approved the agreement, Robindale would be able to use the land “for the purpose of disposing of coal refuse, rock, coal screenings, coal ash, alkaline material, and other coal products,” anywhere they deem necessary on the 100+ acre parcel.  To the best of our knowledge, the lease proposal has not yet been signed and is still under consideration by CSF.


In 2017, Robindale submitted a pre-application for a new coal preparation facility permit along Sewickley Creek. The application described a 27.2 acre preparation facility that would process approximately 800,000 tons of coal per year. The DEP issued a comment letter pointing out various deficiencies in the application to be corrected. Robindale never responded and so the application was categorized as lapsed by the DEP.  To our knowledge, Robindale never acknowledged the lapse, nor shared whether they planned to abandon the project or just revise and resubmit.


The GFCC is the subject of the February 3rd hearing.  The application to remediate the abandoned refuse pile could result in some helpful improvements. However, the application still leaves unanswered questions about how thoroughly the site will be remediated. It also does not address what would happen if the newly unearthed soil cannot be used to remediate the site – since it spent decades having acidic water infiltrate through it and may no longer be suitable.   

Mountain Watershed Association will also be hosting a virtual “Pre-Meeting” on January 28th to provide impacted residents with an opportunity to connect and learn more about the proposed developments. If you are a concerned resident and would like to join, or if you have any questions about this proposed project, please contact Stacey Magda at 724-455-4200×9# (office) or 412-523-7038 (cell) or by emailing at

If you’d like to observe or speak at DEP’s virtual public meeting, contact the community relations coordinator, Lauren Fraley at or 412-442-4203 a minimum of 24 hours in advance.