Wyano mine reclamation project nearly completed
A once barren hillside near Wyano is well on its way to becoming something more useful.
Through a mine reclamation project with the Westmoreland Conservation District, the 60-acre property owned by Charles Casturo is 80 percent completed and considered a success by the agency, said watershed specialist Rob Cronauer.
“I think he's going to be an asset to the community,” he said. “The site in the past has been a real eyesore.”
Casturo and his brother run Triple C Recycling at the site, which houses heavy machinery, trucks and scrap metal at 2049 Mt. Pleasant Road, just hidden from view off Route 31 in South Huntingdon.
Casturo has moved tons of black mine refuse, covered it with topsoil and contoured it to curb erosion and infiltration of runoff into nearby streams.
The project began in 2010 with a three-year agreement through the conservation district and the state Department of Environmental Protection for payment of $71,000 from a forfeited bond from the owners of the former mine, Cronauer said.
“There's plenty of abandoned mine sites around the county, but not the same bond money,” he said.
Casturo was also in a unique position since he was able to use his own equipment to do the work and suit his needs.
“We've gotten it to the point where the property is productive,” Casturo said.
Once home to the Osborne mines, the land was active in deep and strip mining for more than 40 years. Refuse was just piled up, not clean or useful enough to sell.
With the help of this project, Casturo dumped 3,000 tons of biosolids — the by-products of treated sewage — onto the hillside after covering it with topsoil.
Now the seeds of various grasses and trees have been planted and a sediment basin created below will filter runoff.
Trespassers riding ATVs or dumping at the property have been eliminated for the most part because of the activity on an otherwise isolated property, Casturo said.
South Huntingdon Supervisor Mel Cornell said township residents nearby appreciate the project.
“The more I see, it was beneficial,” he said. “It's a lot greener than it was before.”
Casturo said the property may never look like a golf course, but a berm near Wyano with evergreen trees and a lower driveway are in the works over the next few years, depending on improvements slated for Route 70.
“We're trying to get everything aimed in the right direction,” he said.
In order to be considered a success the property must have 70 percent covered with vegetation by September, Cronauer said, adding that Casturo is well on his way to hit that goal.
While no similar projects are planned anywhere else in the county because of lack of funding, Cronauer said he was glad to hear some nearby farmers might begin incorporating biosolids into their fertilizing practices as a result.
“We're always looking to put environmental projects on the ground,” he said.
Stacey Federoff is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 724-836-6660.