South Fayette officials expected to vote on coal mining under former hospital
Coal valued between $20 million and $62 million waits beneath the former Mayview State Hospital site in South Fayette, and its owners hope there's a market for it by the time they can mine it.
The South Fayette Zoning Hearing Board is expected to decide on Wednesday on a controversial application by Duquesne Heights-based Aloe Brothers LLC to mine part of the 158 acres. The company bought the property from the state in 2010 for $505,000 and demolished the former hospital buildings.
Aloe wants to conduct “incidental surface mining” as it levels and grades the eastern 37 acres off Mayview Road, near the Upper St. Clair border. Aloe would sell the coal to help finance construction of an office/light industrial park.
“We haven't done any of the real economics on it,” said Dennis Regan, Aloe's project manager. “The first step is to get local permission, and then fill out the application (for mining) with the Department of Environmental Protection.”
Opponents question the noise and pollution that mining might generate, especially given that Upper St. Clair's Boyce Mayview Park wraps around three sides of the site.
The Upper St. Clair Citizens for Land Stewardship worked for several years to preserve the park for passive recreation, said Annette Shimer, a board member.
“Some of the trails are right next to where they would be mining,” she said. “For nearby residents and people at the (Upper St. Clair Community and Recreation Center), there's issues of noise and traffic. For us, there's issues of noise and disturbance of the quiet area that is Boyce Mayview Park.”
Upper St. Clair residents Ed Bailey Sr. and Ruth Bailey, whose property is adjacent to Boyce Mayview Park, said they worry about coal trucks leaving the site.
“Trucks going up Boyce Road, that's what I don't understand, with the rail lines right down there,” said Ed Bailey, 73. He'd suggest that the Aloes try test runs, supervised by state police, to see if large trucks could make the journey from the site to the interstate safely.
Ruth Bailey, 71, is concerned about the blasting, which Aloe representatives said would occur about twice a week, and traffic on Washington Pike.
South Fayette's traffic engineer, Ray Caruso, questioned the ability of coal trucks to navigate narrow intersections.
Regan said getting permission from DEP could take 18 months, meaning that mining could be years away.
The zoning board rejected Aloe's first application in March. The company missed the window for an appeal to Allegheny County Common Pleas Court and re-filed its application.
“Right now, the coal market is not too strong, but that's not to say that there isn't a market,” Regan said.
Two bulldozers and a front-end loader would dig pits, and blasting would remove rock to get at the coal seam about 12 feet below surface.
Each pit would be filled with soil from the next one dug. An estimated 400,000 to 1 million tons of Pittsburgh Seam coal could be recoverable, Regan said.
At indexed prices of about $62.65 per ton for low-sulfur coal, or $56.65 per ton for coal with a higher sulfur content, that would result in a decent profit if it's as easy to dig up as the owners estimate, experts said.
“I know the Aloes, and they wouldn't be doing (the mining) if it wasn't worth it,” said Jack Porco, president and chief operating officer of Latrobe-based Xcoal Energy & Resources LLC, which buys coal from mines and sells it around the world.
Though environmental regulations and competition from natural gas have depressed the coal market, he said, it is likely to remain stable for a few years.
Matthew Santoni is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 412-380-5625 or email@example.com.
Add Matthew Santoni to your Google+ circles.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pittsburgh police break up customer fights over Air Jordan 11 shoes
- Christmas in Western Pa. predicted to be ‘slightly white’
- Children treated to gifts, peaceful holiday party at Lincoln-Lemington church
- Tree recycling offered at Allegheny County parks
- Newsmaker: Patrick Juola
- Environmental teachers glean new ideas from networking
- Pittsburgh adjusting to new bicycle lane, ‘stop boxes’
- Icy roads, cold causing school delays, wrecks in Western Pa.
- Butler legislator gives weekly GOP address
- Brashear High ‘little libraries’ program rolls out
- Pittsburgh fraud case, Uganda-based counterfeiting racket linked