Nally & Hamilton Enterprises Inc., one of the largest independent coal operators in eastern Kentucky, is seeking a Section 404 Clean Water Act permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the Right Fork #1 surface coal mine in Harlan County, Ky.
The Corps office in Nashville, Tenn., is taking public comment on the application until July 15. The project is located abound half a mile south of Pathfork in Harlan County. The affected streams are tributaries to Mill Creek. The Right Fork #1 mine is located within the company’s Balkan Mining Area, the Corps said in a public notice.
This operation would involve contour and auger mining in the Harlan and Kellioka/Darby coal seams within a 431.5-acre site. Covered by the permitting are two hollow fills for mine site spoil, which would impact about 2,678 linear feet of ephemeral stream channels. There would also be an in-stream sediment pond for one of the fills that would impact 381 linear feet of intermittent stream. Ephemeral streams only flow during rain events and after snow melts. Intermittent streams run for longer parts of the year. An existing in-stream pond will be used in conjunction with the other hollow fill. The existing pond had been built for two state permit areas of Cloverfork Mining and Excavation, with those operations currently idled but the pond area not yet reclaimed.
Nally & Hamilton has also been seeking a Section 404 permit on a strip mine – to be located on tributaries to Law Branch, Big Eb Hollow, Carter Branch and East Jellico Branch – in Bell County, Ky. The tributaries are within its proposed KayJay #7 surface mine, the Corps office in Louisville, Ky., said in a public notice. The Corps was taking public comment on this application until May 17.
Note that the Corps divides jurisdictional areas by watershed and both the Louisville and Nashville offices have oversight over different parts of eastern Kentucky.
Section 404 permits in eastern Kentucky have gotten tougher to get in recent years due to several environmental group lawsuits and a 2009 get-tough approach formulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which advises the Corps during the permitting process. Applications lately have gone through changes to minimize stream impacts so they can be gotten through the permitting process.
Nally & Hamilton, controlled by Thomas Hamilton, has lately sought several Section 404 permits for other mining operations. For example:
- a Corps public comment period expired April 20 on an application for the Pencil Round Mountain surface mine in Harlan County;
- the comment period expired Feb. 16 for the Fourmile #2 surface mine in Bell County; and
- the comment period expired Jan. 19 for the Jackson Mountain #3 surface mine in Bell and Harlan counties.