The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is taking comment until Oct. 5 on an application by Appolo Fuels for a Section 404 Clean Water Act permit on the Sterling surface mine project in Tennessee.
The project is on tributaries to Tackett Creek, Valley Creek, Hurricane Creek, Pigeon Roost Branch, Bear Creek, and Spruce Lick Branch are located in Claiborne County, Tenn. They are within Appolo Fuels’ proposed Sterling surface mine area, located within the Straight Creek-Clear Fork watershed.
Impacts to waters of the U.S. would total 2.34 acres of wetlands and 2.84 acres of open water features to facilitate mine through activities along the Sterling coal seam. The wetlands and open water features are located on the existing mine bench along the Sterling coal seam and were created during previous mining operations. Culverts would be installed or replaced in 21 locations along 11 streams during the construction of a haul road for the mining project.
In order to compensate for impacts to 2.34 acres of wetlands, the applicant is proposing the purchase of 2.5 credits from the Tennessee Wildlife Federation in-lieu fee program (TWF) at an approximate 1:1 ratio. The TWF uses funds to accomplish wetland restoration and enhancement projects approved by state and federal agencies. No compensatory mitigation is proposed for impacts to open water depressional features.
As part of the Local Interagency Working Agreement for Coal Mine Permitting, Compliance and Enforcement Actions in Tennessee (LIWA), the U.S. Office of Surface Mining (OSM) is considered the lead federal agency for the coordination and conduct of environmental reviews of this project under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
The applicant has described the operation as 804.8 acres of surface disturbance associated with contour mining and 283.6 acres of underground auger mining. Appolo has submitted a mine permit application (#3264) to OSM.