The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers office in Pittsburgh is out for comment until Oct. 29 on a Section 404 Clean Water Act permit application from Cumberland Coal Resources LP for a project located along unnamed tributaries to Whiteley Creek in Whiteley Township, Greene County, Pennsylvana.
The Cumberland Coal Raw Coal Stockpile Expansion project would expand an existing raw coal stockpile by 7.47 acres for the existing 51-acre Cumberland Mine, a longwall operation working the Pittsburgh coal seam. The project is a proposed modification to an existing Corps authorization. Previous impacts to waters of the U.S. resulted from construction of the coal preparation plant and existing stockpile. These impacts have been mitigated for. The proposed stockpile expansion will permanently impact 536 linear feet of stream in the Whiteley Creek watershed.
To mitigate for impacts to waters of the U.S. the applicant proposes to conduct stream restoration of 512 linear feet, stream creation of 20 linear feet, riparian enhancement of 168 linear feet, and preservation into perpetuity of a 100 foot riparian buffer (12.15 acre forested area) within in the Whiteley Creek watershed.
Cumberland is one of the former Alpha Natural Resources operations that Contura Energy, formed by some creditors of Alpha, bought earlier this year out of Alpha’s bankruptcy case. The mine, formerly under the name Cumberland Coal Resources, is as of July registered with the U.S. Mine Safety and Healthy Administration under Cumberland Contura LLC. MSHA data shows the mine produced 5.3 million tons in the first three quarters of this year, and 7.5 million tons in all of 2015.
Notable is that Alpha had said it planned to shut the nearby Emerald longwall mine, also a producer from the Pittsburgh seam, due to reserve depletion. MSHA data shows the “nonproducing” mine is now listed under Emerald Contura LLC, that it produced no coal this year, with last production (of a scant 16,209 tons) coming in the fourth quarter of 2015, with full-year output in 2015 at 1.7 million tons.