In the annual program report, OSM said, "During the review period, OSM found that some mountaintop removal operations with [approximate original contour] variances had been approved with unauthorized postmining land uses, and some documentation required for approved designated postmining land use was missing from the permit application.
"In addition, OSM found that the State's AOC policies and procedures were applied inconsistently or were too broad," the annual report said. "The State's approved program also contained language differences for mountaintop-removal and steep-slope mining operations that may have contributed to these problems and will require further attention."
The OSM annual report praised the DEP Office of Mining and Reclamation's electronic permit database, called the Environmental Resources Information Network, or ERIN, and the agency's World Wide Web site.
"The site gets more than one million hits per year and was developed entirely in-house," the report said. "Through the WVDEP Web page, an individual can retrieve statistical information concerning active, abandoned, or forfeited mine sites."
The report, however, also outlined a number of longstanding issues that DEP has not found solutions for. Among them:
The DEP bonding system is not adequate to cover land reclamation. Under current projections, the bond money will not be sufficient to eliminate the backlong of unreclaimed abandoned mine sites for 10 to 20 years, without consideration of additional costs for water treatment.
DEP is overdue in satisfying OSM-required amendments to state mining laws and regulations in 26 different subject areas. "Some progress was made over the past year on issues such as subsidence control and water replacement," OSM said. "However, many issues, some several years old, are yet to be addressed."
Underground pools of acid mine water continue to threaten surface water supplies in northern West Virginia. "As a result of many decades of underground mining on the Pittsburgh coal seam, the voids left by mining have either flooded or are in the process of flooding," the OSM report said.