Coal reclamation group says PennEast needs to be careful of old mine works

The Eastern PA Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation (EPCAMR) told the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Jan. 27 that the developer of the PennEast gas pipeline project, which will cross old coalfields in Pennsylvania, needs to carefully consider the pipeline route in light of the dangers of old mine works in the region.

EPCAMR is a regional environmental non-profit organization that is located in the Wyoming Valley, Luzerne County, Pa. EPCAMR has been working on abandoned mine reclamation projects, underground mining technical reports, monitoring of underground mine pool complexes, abandoned mine drainage treatment system construction, design, and monitoring, environmental education, community outreach, community cleanups, and innovative modeling and the development of 3D models for a large majority of the state’s Anthracite Coal Region. 

“EPCAMR is of the opinion that based on the best available mapping that is out there without conducting a full hydrogeological investigation and mapping and mine pool investigation, which is something that PennEast should possibly consider, there could be the potential for a great deal of environmental concern for pollution, leaks into the underground mine pools, subsidence, and or instability issues at the surface depending on the infrastructure needed to create the pipeline crossing,” the organization told FERC. “EPAMR suggests that a professional services contract or public bid be placed to conduct a thorough mine pool investigation of this area for subsidence prone issue possibilities.

“This area looks to be in the former colliery boundaries of the Westmoreland, Number #14, and possibly the Ewen. There are a number of mine maps from the surface to each of the individual coal veins that were mined out across the Valley that could be looked at and interpreted. EPCAMR believes that PennEast should seriously consider the abandoned underground mining implications and potential risk for mine subsidence and mine pool contamination for this project in this area prior to moving forward. EPCAMR believes that there is a need for additional consideration that should be taken by PennEast Pipeline should they consider a route over the proposed area in question that are over abandoned mines in that portion of this portion of the Wyoming Valley. Without having any specific details of the actual plans for the pipeline and designs, depths of trenches proposes, excavation depths into the rock and across the Susquehanna River, EPCAMR has no way to make any further determinations at this time.”

EPCAMR said it is not in a position to take a stance on the pipeline, due to the lack of technical information, however, it has no problem in pointing out that abandoned mines and an underground mine pool is located in that area and should be a cause for some concern and should be looked at much more closely should any trenching or excavation be done in that area.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is in the early stages of preparing an environmental impact statement (EIS) on the PennEast project, which involves construction and operation of facilities by PennEast Pipeline Co. LLC. PennEast is a partnership of six member companies including AGL ResourcesNew Jersey Resources Pipeline Co., South Jersey IndustriesPSEG Power LLCSpectra Energy Partners and UGI Energy Services. The scoping period, where input is taken on what should be covered by the EIS, will close on Feb. 12.

The PennEast project will provide approximately 1.0 billion cubic feet per day of year-round transportation service from northern Pennsylvania to markets in eastern and southeastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The project would bring natural gas produced in the Marcellus Shale region in eastern Pennsylvania to homes and businesses in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The project would extend from various receipt point interconnections, including interconnections with Transcontinental Gas Pipeline Co. LLC and gathering systems operated by Williams Partners LPRegency Energy Partners LP, and UGI Energy Services, all in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania.

Various delivery point interconnections would be constructed including: UGI Utilities Inc. in Carbon and Northampton counties, Pennsylvania; Columbia Gas Transmission LLC in Northampton County; and Elizabethtown GasTexas Eastern Transmission LP and Algonquin Transmission LLC, all in Hunterdon, New Jersey.

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.