The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers office in Louisville, Ky., is taking comment until Feb. 22 on an application by The American Coal Co. for a Section 404 Clean Water Act permit covering new waste disposal area for a mining operation on unnamed tributaries and adjacent wetlands to the Middle Fork Saline River in Saline County, Illinois.
The proposed project would be an expansion of a coal refuse disposal area. The disposal site would be 234.7 acres in size. The operation would involve the construction of a refuse disposal area, which would include embankments constructed of coarse refuse material to create an impoundment into which fine refuse will be deposited. The facility is designed to contain approximately 20 million cubic yards of refuse and is expected to last approximately five years.
Final design elevation would be approximately 530 feet above mean sea level resulting in a fill of approximately 100 feet in height. The impoundment is designed with a compacted clay liner. Fine refuse would be capped with coarse refuse prior to a clay cap being installed over all refuse, which would then be vegetated. A runoff collection system would direct runoff to a collection pond. The site is pending approval by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA) Permit #442.
The proposed project would fill 4218 linear feet of ephemeral streams, 0.04 acre of palustrine forested (PFO) wetlands, 0.61 acre of palustrine emergent (PEM) wetlands, and 0.48 acre of palustrine unconsolidated bottom (PUB) wetlands.
American Coal, which is part of Ohio-based coal producer Murray Energy, has two adjacent underground mines listed with the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration in what is commonly known as the Galatia complex in Saline County. The New Era mine produced 3.1 million tons in 2015 and 5.5 million tons in 2014, according to MSHA data. The New Future mine produced 5.2 million tons in 2015 and 5.7 million tons in 2014, again according to MSHA.