The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has awarded a roughly $13.5m competitively bid contract to Rosebud Mining Co. to remediate and reclaim a 62-acre abandoned mine site in the community of Ehrenfeld, in Cambria County.
The DEP announced the contract award in a March 8 news release.
“We can finally award a contract to reclaim this unsightly and hazardous abandoned coal refuse pile,” said John Quigley, DEP Secretary. “Two years ago, the original bids for this project came in far too high, preventing this public health and safety project from moving forward. The project design was reworked and locating a nearby site to place refuse material resulted in a cost reduction to allow the contract to proceed.”
Of the four competitive bids received, Rosebud was the lowest qualified bidder. Previous bids for this project reached as high as $21.6m.
The site is a visual blight on the community, and includes a coal refuse pile that towers over the more than 100 nearby homes and buildings. The steep pile poses dangers for riders of all-terrain vehicles on the site, DEP said.
The project, expected to last three years, involves hauling 3.2 million tons of coal refuse to the nearby permitted facility being reclaimed by the mine operator. The reclamation includes extinguishing a five-acre portion of the pile currently burning, and reducing fines (sediment comprised of small coal pieces and dust) running into the adjacent stream, an unnamed tributary to the Little Conemaugh River.
Highly acidic runoff from the pile has flowed into the stream and river for many years and will be eliminated by the project.
The reclamation plans include improved drainage, tree plantings, and the development of a recreational park on a portion of the site, due to its location along the “Path of the Flood Trail,” commemorating the 1889 Johnstown flood.
The contract enables the company to recall 40 recently laid-off miners to complete the reclamation work. Most of the funding is provided through Pennsylvania’s 2016 federal Abandoned Mine Land (AML) Grant, derived from a fee on coal.
This project is one of several being pursued as part of the Little Conemaugh River Restoration Project.