DEP Announces Funding to Support 150 Abandoned Mine Reclamation Projects Statewide

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has announced the approval of $55.6 million in funding that will support at least 150 abandoned coal mine reclamation projects that will “create new jobs, reduce health and safety risks, and improve the environment and outdoor recreation opportunities throughout Pennsylvania.”

The projects approved for funding will remove dangerous steep walls left by mining operations; correct hazardous sinkholes and troughs caused by collapse of underground mines; extinguish underground fires; reforest and revegetate some land; and remove acid mine drainage, helping to restore the health of streams, some of which have been contaminated for decades, and potentially enabling the return of fish populations.

Project funding comes from the U.S. Department of the Interior Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement 2018 Abandoned Mine Land (AML) Grant Fund, and is supported by the active mining industry via a fee on coal mined across the country.

“One-third of the abandoned mine lands in the nation are located in Pennsylvania, largely as a result of hundreds of years of coal mining prior to modern laws, regulations, and safeguards,” said Eric Cavazza, director of the DEP Bureau of Abandoned Mine Reclamation. “

Among the dozen or so larger projects scheduled to be completed by the Department three are from the anthracite region. The DEP is providing funding to extinguish the Dolph underground mine fire in Olyphant Borough, Lackawanna County. Additionally, the Department is planning to reclaim the Oneida West abandoned surface mine in North Union Township, Schuylkill County. The project will eliminate an existing dangerous highwall.

Finally, the DEP is also funding a project to eliminate a dangerous highwall at the Bear Valley Southwest abandoned surface mine, allowing construction of an off-road vehicle/ATV park to improve recreational opportunities in Coal and Zerbe Townships.

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