February 17: Public Hearing on Shaw Coal Refuse Site

Join MWA stand up to the proposed Shaw Mine Coal Refuse Site by attending the virtual public hearing February 17. This proposed site would add a 131-acre dump site for toxic mining waste around our Casselman River, outside Meyersdale, PA. Already, the Casselman is likely buffeted by high iron content due to existing abandoned mine drainage, which discharges adjacent to the area high school. A 2017 study by Hedin Environmental described an ongoing “yellow plume” that oozed as far as 5 miles downstream to Garrett, Pennsylvania.

“Yellow Plume” visible in the Casselman River

The Casselman River has a history of degradation from mining. In 1993, snowmelt in a dry spring exposed acid mine drainage in abandoned underground coal mines, overwhelming the ecosystem. The result was 42 miles of widespread animal death, until the tainted Casselman waters were diluted by the Youghiogheny.  This included a fish-kill of thousands of trout which had been stocked by the State Fish and Boat Commission. The mine operator was required to build mitigation structures deemed adequate to prevent another disaster. This effort went a long way in improving the water quality. However, with the yellow plume as evidence, pollution from Shaw Mine still continues in the Casselman, even if it has been reduced.

MWA hopes to help reverse this trend and defend our right to clean, safe, thriving waterways. Our region relies on the Casselman for paddle sports recreation, along with tourism through the famous Great Allegheny Passage (GAP). Permanently planting thousands of tons of toxic waste beside a river not yet adequately maintained is questionable. Heritage Coal, the company proposing the waste refuse project, seeks to create an additional discharge into the Casselman River, which will parallel the GAP trail. It’s time for us to dispute proposals that treat these hills and valleys as a waste depository, leaning on history to teach us the most important lessons.

Please attend this event to voice your questions and concerns on February 17 at 1pm.  If you wish to comment during the hearing, you must contact DEP community relations coordinator Lauren Fraley at lfraley@pa.gov at 412.442.4203 a minimum of 24 hours in advance. To learn more about treating mine discharge, check out the Abandoned Mine Reclamation page.