Group appeals to halt Dunbar mining
By Liz Zemba
Published: Wednesday, February 20, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Updated: Wednesday, February 20, 2013
A nonprofit environmental group has appealed a zoning decision that allows a Stahlstown company to operate a surface coal mine in Dunbar Township.
Fayette County's zoning hearing board in December granted Amerikohl Mining a special exception for the mine on a 465-acre site along Camp Carmel Road.
Amerikohl plans to remove 60 tons of coal from a 150-acre portion of the site.
The Mountain Watershed Association, based in Melcroft, has filed an appeal of the board's decision in county court. The organization, along with a number of residents, opposed the mining operation during several public hearings held before the board's approval of the special exception.
In the appeal, the association contends the board should not have even considered Amerikohl's request because it had previously denied the company a special exception for the same site in 2009.
David Maxwell, Amerikohl vice president, was unavailable for comment on Tuesday.
In December, Maxwell said the approved application was “substantially changed” from the original request in 2009. The revised request, he said, deleted one coal seam because it could not be mined “environmentally safe.”
The association argues Amerikohl failed to show the mine will not adversely impact the “health, safety and welfare of nearby residents” and users of the Great Allegheny Passage hiking and biking trail.
Maxwell said in December that the revised request “changed the direction of mining and blasting to ensure no issues with the health, safety and welfare of the public,” or with people using the nearby Great Allegheny Passage bike trail.
One issue raised by the appeal is the board's alleged failure to consider the company's past through state Department of Environmental Protection records.
The appeal questions whether the board “adequately set forth the effectiveness” of warnings that Amerikohl must give prior to blasting. Those warnings, according to a copy of the board's resolution, include giving residents advance notice of blasting and warning trail and river users with signs and audible alarms.
Liz Zemba is a reporter for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-601-2166 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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