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DEP to consider partial bond release for Amerikohl

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By Rachel Basinger
Saturday, Oct. 6, 2012, 12:01 a.m.

The Department of Environmental Protection took comments on Thursday concerning releasing some bond money to Amerikohl Mining Inc. in regards to the Nicholson 3 mine in Normalville, which the company recently reclaimed.

A permit was issued to Amerikohl on April 25, 2011 to mine for coal along Buttermilk Hollow Road. Andy Walker, surface mine conservation inspector, said the permit was for a total of 194 acres, with about 80 acres affected and then reclaimed. Amerikohl started mining in May 2011 and completed coal removal from the site by April of this year.

The public hearing on Thursday was for DEP officials to consider releasing Stage 1 bond money back to Amerikohl. No official decisions were made.

Ted Pitash, inspector/supervisor with the DEP, said there are three stages of bond release after the completion of any mining at a specific site.

The first stage would be for the DEP to authorize the release of 60 percent of the bond if Amerikohl meets the requirements, which include backfilling the affected area, mulching, reseeding and the planting of trees.

Walker said the total bond Amerikohl was required to put up for the project was slightly more than $176,000. If approved for Stage 1 bond release, the mining company would get about $106,000 of their bond money returned.

Pitash said the Stage 2 bond release wouldn't come into play until after two complete growing seasons, when the vegetation (trees and grasses) has a chance to qualify.

If it does qualify, the company would get the remainder of its bond, less any money it would take to re-vegetate and re-grade the site if the company fails to pass the Stage 2 bond release decision.

If all goes well, it would take about five years to get through all three stages of the bond release, he added.

Krissy Kasserman with the Youghiogheny Riverkeepers and the Mountain Watershed Association, said they had a hydro-geologist look at the quality of two streams that were affected during the mining.

“The concerns of our hydro-geologist were whether there was a decline in base flow from the top of the streams to the bottom and whether or not there was a significant increase in sedimentation below the site.

“Even though it was not required, we would have liked to see some testing for macro-invertebrates below the site,” she said.

Rachel Basinger is a freelance writer.

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