Impacts of Current Mining Activities on Dunkard Creek
Dana Mining operates the 4-West Mine near Bobtown, PA and their activities are causing damaging levels of total disolved solids (TDS) in the lower portion of the creek. Specifically, the discharge from the Steele Shaft site, operated by AMDRI, a "non-profit" company controled by Mepco LLC and GenPower Holdings, remains the largest source of TDS in Dunkard Creek and perhaps the entire Monongahela River watershed. High levels of TDS from Steel Shaft have been documented to have damaged the aquatic community in Dunkard and TDS remains a threat to the many municipal water authorities in southwestern PA that draw water from the Monongahela River.
The Steele Shaft site was originally developed as a joint partnership between PA DEP and Dana Mining to avoid a damaging discharge from the abandoned Shannopin mine. As part of that agreement, water was to be pumped from the Shannopin mine into Dunkard Creek with only minimal treatment to effluent limits that were relaxed to facilitate the project. The discharge of large amounts of polluted water into Dunkard Creek was planned to be relatively brief as the Shannopin mine was pumped down and the water was to be piped to the Longview Powerplant for use in cooling (this never happened). We still support the original effort the Shannopin Mine, however the project has been hijacked - what originally was suppose to be a project to prevent Dunkard Creek from being polluted has turned into a project that pollutes Dunkard Creek at unbelievable levels.
Most of the water being discharged into Dunkard Creek now originates from the Humphrey mine, even though the Humphrey minepool was never part of the 2003 agreement that established Steele Shaft site. In contrast to the Shannopin mine, there is no danger of Humphrey minepool overflowing and there is no environmental benefit of pumping Humphrey minepool out. The pumping of Humphrey mine water into Dunkard Creek serves only one purpose - to allow Dana Mining to access coal. We feel that it is wrong for Dana to take the relaxed water quality standards granted for the discharge of Shannopin minepool and apply them to the Humphrey minepool which poses no danger of a blow-out and remains the legal responsibility of Consol Energy. If Dana must pump water from Humphrey Mine into Dunkard Creek, they should treat the water for TDS, as Consol has already agreed to do with their discharges.