The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers office in Pittsburgh said in a Dec. 4 public notice that it is proposing to re-issue a permit for the long-dormant, waste-coal-fired power plant project of Wellington Development–WVDT LLC.
This site is along the left descending bank of the Monongahela River, River Mile 76.27 to 76.5, near the town of Nemacolin in Greene County, Pa.
“This public notice shall serve as notice for re-issuance of the expired Standard Permit that was issued on October 17, 2006,” the Corps said. “No changes are being proposed and the originally permitted plans are still in place. Wellington Development proposes to construct a 525-megawatt (MW) resources recovery project that will utilize local coal refuse piles (‘gob’) as fuel, beginning primarily with the re-mining of the large mine waste pile of the former Nemacolin Coal/Buckeye Coal facility. This project involves recovery and beneficial use of coal mining waste as a fuel and the restoration of approximately 3,000 acres of severely degraded mining property (primarily of coal mining waste dumps).”
Major features of this project requiring Section 10 and Section 404 permitting are:
- 675 linear feet of aerial power line crossing over the Monongahela River;
- New outfall structure;
- Modification of previously permitted intake structure;
- Re-configuration and rehabilitation of the existing barge fleeting facility to handle fuel deliveries. The barge terminal will be modified by adding eight new breasting cells, and five new mooring cells. The expansion of the barge fleeting area will require approximately 100,000 cubic yards of dredging;
- Wetlands – 3.18 acres of jurisdictional wetlands exist on the entire 3,000-acre site. About 425 acres will be required for the power plant activity and the remaining area consists primarily of gob piles and impoundment area. Permanently impacted wetlands by this project are proposed at 0.23 acres;
- Streams – Approximately 3,300 linear feet of stream (Pegs Run) will be impacted by construction activities, however, much of Pegs Run was previously filled with coal fines as part of the impoundment from the original mining activity on the site. As the coal recovery project proceeds, the coal fines located within the impoundment area will be removed and used by the power plant, the Corps noted. As the original streambed of Pegs Run becomes unearthed and revealed, a natural stream design will be constructed to re-establish the waterway to its pre-mining morphology; and
- The existing gob pile left by the former mining operation will slowly be re-mined and also used by the power plant. Existing on the site are a series of acid mine drainage (AMD) abatement features (polishing ponds, caustic soda hopper tanks, skimmers, etc.) which treat run-off water and leachate from the gob pile prior to entering the river. These AMD features will also be removed as part of the power plant project as the gob pile is reduced.
This Greene Energy Resource Recovery Project is one of a handful of waste coal-fired power projects in Pennsylvania that were proposed mid to late last decade, but none have to this point been built, in part due to environmental group legal appeals. The state had been encouraging these projects within its renewable energy program because they would clean up vast acres of old coal piles that are polluting local waterways and that couldn’t be cleaned up for many years using limited available public funding.