Federal mining engineers have reviewed six more pending state mountaintop removal permits and found them unacceptable, according to internal government reports.
The U.S. Office of Surface Mining found numerous problems with the permit applications, according to draft OSM reports obtained by The Charleston Gazette.
OSM staffers found the applications proposed valley fills that were too large and mining plans that did not comply with new approximate original contour reclamation guidelines.
Engineers, geologists and hydrologists from OSM also found that applications did not adequately consider potential water quality problems from proposed mining.
"The [application] does not adequately address the hydrologic impacts of multiple seam mining operations," says one OSM report, on a Vandalia Resources Inc. permit application.
Vandalia, a Pittston Coal subsidiary, wants a permit to mine 463 acres along Lily Fork and Sycamore Run in Clay County, according to Division of Environmental Protection records.
"Some, [but] not all of the state water quality standards were discussed," the report says. "The Cumulative Impact Area was not totally defined, such as number of acres or square miles in watershed.
"Discussion of how this operation would prevent generation of [acid mine drainage] was limited," the OSM report said. "Groundwater impacts [were] just barely mentioned, and flooding was not mentioned at all."
In its report, OSM said that Vandalia did not consider all reasonable alternatives to the two valley fills proposed for the mine.
"The applicant needs to include a description of environmental consequences of all alternatives," the report said. "It is important that analyses are presented only for meaningful project impacts.
"The applicant should address short- and long-term impacts; primary and secondary impacts; and residual impacts," it said. "Mitigation should be addressed following the review of impacts for each resource component being evaluated and should be presented for each alternative."