LTC Energy needs Fayette residents to OK testing

| Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2012, 8:15 a.m.

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of households in the Donegal and Saltick Township areas have received letters from the engineering firm of CME, which is acting on behalf of LTC Energy of Somerset, in requesting that residents allow water testing on their property.

LTC wants to deep mine in an area located between County Line Road and the Pennsylvania Turnpike and also east of Donegal Borough. The testing would become part of the water quality information needed for an application.

The Mountain Watershed Association hosted a public meeting Tuesday to address the mining issues and field questions from concerned residents. About 150 local residents packed the Laurel Highlands Hall in Donegal to listen to a presentation and gather more information on the proposed mining project.

Representatives from LTC and CME were invited but did not attend.

“We don't know how many letters were even sent out,” Beverly Braverman of the Mountain Watershed Association said. “Those that received the letters are within the ‘footprint' of the proposed mine.”

Braverman showed the group a map that was supplied to them that outlined an area of consideration for the mine, but the map does not show the definite outlined area of the mine.

“We haven't yet received an exact map,” Braverman said. “We really don't know what the footprint will look like yet.”

The presentation covered many areas of concern such as water issues, mine subsidence, increased truck traffic and numerous health issues that could possibly occur as a result of the proposed mining.

The group also talked about a processing center that would be necessary to clean the mined coal, with the smallest of possible structures covering many acres.

“The smallest could be a 30- to 50-acre facility, but that is still big.” Braverman said.

LTC already has been granted permission to explore the area.

Those who opt to not have their water tested or their structures inspected prior to any mining may forfeit their rights to then try to receive any compensation from LTC if they experience water problems or structural issues after the mining begins.

“The inspections can be very intrusive, but if you don't do it and you have damage, they will then say that they didn't cause it,” Braverman said.

A large portion of the proposed site's coal rights are owned by the Loyalhanna Watershed Association, which has already informed LTC that it will not allow mining.

Braverman questioned the location of the proposed site, which is a popular tourist area.

“You have to ask why they would even want to put a mine in an area like this,” Braverman said.

The company has not yet submitted a pre-application or application to the DEP.

“It's all still in the exploration and research phase,” Braverman said. “It's really hard to do anything until they submit an application.”

Marilyn Forbes is a freelance writer.

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