Federal reviewers have found numerous problems with an A.T. Massey Coal Co. mountaintop removal permit under consideration by the state Division of Environmental Protection.
In a new report, the U.S. Office of Surface Mining concluded that the pending permit for Massey subsidiary Road Fork Development does not comply with federal and state strip-mining regulations.
Road Fork wants a permit to mine 1,300 acres in Logan County. The operation would be along Island Creek, Rockhouse Branch, Rich Creek and Middle Fork, southeast of Omar. Richmond, Va.-based Massey hopes to produce 12.2 million tons of coal over the nine-year life of the mine.
The 27-page OSM report, dated April 9, lists the following problems that would need to be fixed before the Road Fork permit could be approved:
The permit asked for a variance from the approximate original contour reclamation requirement. But Road Fork did not ensure that the final grading of the top plateau is not inward draining, a requirement for the AOC variance.
The permit asked for a variance from the federal mining law's contemporaneous reclamation requirements. But a variance is only allowed if mining companies propose contour mining along with mountaintop removal. Road Fork did not propose any contour mining.
The permit application's discussions of the probable hydrologic consequences "fail to provide an analysis of the potential impacts which could result from the mining of the proposed operation."
The application does not consider possible damage to public water supplies and groundwater supplies, toxic discharge from the mine, or loss of water quantity because of valley fills.
The application requested a variance from the 100-foot stream buffer zone rule, but did not satisfy the requirements for receiving the variance.
The permit application proposed a post-mining land use of commercial woodlands, but did not demonstrate - as required by law - that the flat land created by mountaintop removal was necessary for timbering to occur.
Bill Marcum, a spokesman for Massey Coal, said company officials are reviewing the OSM report and hope to resolve the issues raised.