The following is a summary of Friends of Blackwater’s official comments to the DEP regarding the Keystone Surface Mining and Reclamation permit. Please let these guide your comments during the online public hearing on June 10th from 1-5 pm (plan on joining at 1 pm).
- Friends of Blackwater has written an EPA approved Beaver Creek Watershed Based Plan, describing a series of steps to reduce the acid load in the river to improve the ecological health of the watershed. This guides not only FOB projects, but other local groups’ restoration efforts. What emergency procedures will be used to ameliorate siltation or AMD problems? What water-quality parameters maximums are permissible?
- If the treatment of the discharge from this Keystone site were to fail, or unexpectedly become overwhelmed with pollution (acid/metals/sediment), how would Keystone assume responsibility and take measures to remediate the damage?
- The WVDOH has committed to creating, restoring, and managing wetlands along this section of Beaver Creek as part of the Corridor H mitigation plan. Will Keystone work with the WVDOH to ensure that the health and success of these wetlands are not compromised by the Keystone site discharge?
- The DNR monitors and treats the water of Beaver Creek, dumping 300 tons of limestone sands, annually, at seven sites to raise the pH of the water. Should the discharge from the Keystone site reverse the positive effects that this DNR activity has brought about, will Keystone accept responsibility and take steps toward improving the quality of the discharge?
- New water quality standards must be established in order to deal with Beaver Creek as an improved trout stream. The WV DNR stocked trout fingerlings in the spring of 2019 and 2020. What measures will be required and put into place to ensure that the discharge from the Keystone site will meet these standards?
- The current state of the Keystone strip mine is an eye sore for residents and tourists traveling into and out of Tucker County. A critical issue at this time of possible renewal must be: exactly what type of reclamation is expected to eliminate this eyesore, and when? Is there a reclamation timeline? Will restoring the landscape to its original ecological state (i.e. native plants) be considered?
- If ownership of this surface mining site were to change during reclamation, can it be guaranteed that reclamation activities will be completed and water quality standards be upheld?
- There will be an increase in highway traffic when reclamation proceeds. Will safety measures be taken to protect traffic traveling on the highway from these large construction vehicles? What will be done about the increase in dirt/debris tracked onto the roadway? Will efforts be made to limit this?
State agencies, corporations, community, watershed and environmental groups, particularly FOB, have been working with many partners for over 10 years to restore the water quality and ecological function of the Beaver Creek Watershed. Hundreds of thousands of dollars from donors, grants, and state funds have been used to complete this watershed restoration work which may be undermined by the pollution that this surface mining and reclamation could create. FOB supports efforts to responsibly reclaim mine lands, but would be incredibly wasteful if this site were to negatively affect the Blackwater River Watershed by degrading Beaver Creek.
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