Czar Coal is seeking a Section 404 Clean Water Act permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for a refuse impoundment area that would impact perennial, intermittent and ephemeral stream channels and an emergent wetland at a site located about 2 miles southeast of the Big Sandy Regional Airport in Martin County, Ky.
The Corps office in Louisville, Ky., will be seeking public comment on the application until Oct. 18. “The proposed project would expand an existing 88.38-acre refuse impoundment,” said a Corps public notice. “The proposed project would increase the refuse impoundment by 130.56 acres for a total area of 212.52 acres. The construction of the existing refuse impoundment and sediment control structure were authorized by the Huntington District Corps of Engineers by DA Permit No. 200500147.”
Czar Coal is proposing to increase the elevation of the existing impoundment structure and use the existing in-stream sediment structure. The proposed impoundment expansion would permanently impact an additional 470 feet of perennial, 12,337 feet of intermittent and 3,283 feet of ephemeral stream reaches. The refuse impoundment would also permanently impact 0.44 acre of jurisdictional wetland. This proposed work is associated with Kentucky Department for Natural Resources mine permit No. 880-9001 A1.
Czar Coal has no mines or other operations listed under that corporate name with the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration. U.S. Office of Surface Mining data shows Czar Coal as a subsidiary of coal operator Jim Booth’s Beech Fork Processing. Booth is one of the largest independent coal operators in Central Appalachia.
Section 404 permits have been tough to get in recent years, particularly in Central Appalachia, due to multiple environmental group lawsuits filed since the late 1990s and a get-tough approach by the Obama Administration’s U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which advises the Corps during the permitting process.