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DEP Transfers Lehigh Coal & Navigation Permit To New Operator

The Department of Environmental Protection has transferred a 7,500-acre surface mining permit to BET Associates to mine, re-mine and reclaim numerous abandoned mine land features in Schuylkill and Carbon counties.
           The site spans Tamaqua and Coaldale boroughs in Schuylkill County; and Lansford, Summit Hill and Nesquehoning boroughs in Carbon County.  
            The former permit holder, Lehigh Coal & Navigation, filed for bankruptcy in 2008. In addition to mining the site, BET Associates will commit $24.5 million in reclamation bonds and funds to establish a trust to treat the site's acid mine drainage in perpetuity.
            "Coal mining remains an active industry in Pennsylvania, but it is vital that the industry take the appropriate steps to minimize its footprint on the environment," DEP Secretary Mike Krancer said. "This particular site has been mined nearly continuously since the 1800s. The private sector has demonstrated leadership with this site, which will now be mined and reclaimed and have its water treated at no cost to taxpayers."
            An average of 7,000 gallons-per-minute of water contaminated by acid mine drainage flows through the site, which includes more than 800 acres of surface mine pits. BET Associates purchased it in a bankruptcy sale in May 2010, shortly after DEP suspended LCN's mining operations. DEP issued 24 compliance orders to LCN between 2008 and 2010 for numerous water quality violations and for failing to properly reclaim the site.
            As a condition of the permit, BET Associates will post bonds to cover the full cost of reclaiming the site and to treat the acid mine drainage. The previous bonds LCN posted would have been insufficient to reclaim the site and the state would have been responsible for millions of dollars in remediation projects. The permit transfer relieves the state of the potential responsibility of reclaiming the site.


5/23/2011

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