Alpha’s Rockspring unit seeks Corps permit for new coal refuse area

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers office in Huntington, W.Va., is taking comment until Oct. 30 on an application from the Rockspring Development unit of Alpha Natural Resources (NYSE: ANR) for a new coarse refuse area in Wayne County, W.Va.

The proposed project is located 3.9 miles east of East Lynn in the Stonewall District of Wayne County. It would be constructed in and within unnamed tributaries of the Right Fork of Camp Creek. The company is seeking a Section 404 Clean Water Act permit from the Corps for this project, which is a permit that has gotten tougher to get in recent years due to tighter enforcement by the Obama Administration.

Rockspring has requested authorization for the proposed discharge of fill material into waters of the United States within this site in order to construct the Right Fork of Camp Creek Refuse Disposal Facility. This would be an expansion of an existing impoundment to permanently store coarse and fine refuse generated by an existing adjacent underground mine and prep plant. The expansion of the impoundment would necessitate the construction of three temporary drainage control structures below the impoundment.  The proposed project is 259.33 acres and would operate for approximately seven years, allowing the adjacent underground mine to continue operations and produce approximately 18.6 million tons of coal over seven years. 

The existing impoundment was built in the 1970s to retain freshwater (16.6 surface acres of open water). Intermittent and ephemeral waters of the U.S. flow into the impoundment. Water from the freshwater impoundment is currently being utilized by the adjacent underground mine and prep plant. 

The applicant proposes to expand the base and the height of the impoundment and dispose of coarse and fine refuse. The expansion of the impoundment and disposal of 24.29 million tons of coarse refuse and 6.09 million tons of fine refuse would result in the discharge of fill material into 6,465 feet of stream, 1.75 acres of wetland, and 16.6 acres of open water.

U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration data shows that Rockspring’s Camp Creek deep mine produced 1.3 million tons in the first half of this year, 2.9 million tons in all of 2012 and 3 million tons in 2011.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.