A new wastewater treatment plant being built by Rosebud Mining Co. in St. Michael, Penn., is expected to eliminate a major source of acid mine drainage into the Little Conemaugh River. It’s the result of the state’s first mining permit requiring a company to treat discharge and improve water quality as part of its mining operation, according to Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection.
The coal mining company says current St. Michael discharge is responsible for as much as 44 percent of the total acid mine drainage load to the river. By lowering the mine pool and treating the acid mine drainage, Rosebud will not only improve the facility’s environmental impact but will be able to access coal reserves, which the company says will take up to 40 years to mine.
Rosebud has signed a consent order and agreement with the DEP to build and operate the plant. The $15 million facility will be completed by April, the Daily American reports.
According to the newspaper, Rosebud has about 1,100 acres of mineable land, and once it reduces the level of the mine pool water, it will have access to an additional 10,562 acres.
Under the agreement with DEP, Rosebud is responsible for all costs to treat the mine pool water. The company has also agreed to make annual payments to a trust fund, which will be used to permanently pay the operations, maintenance and recapitalization costs for the discharge treatment facility once mining is completed.
The facility almost didn’t happen, however.
DEP Deputy Secretary for Active and Abandoned Mine Operations John Stefanko said the company’s original treatment plan — under which the treated water would still not have met EPA standards — “threatened to kill the project.”
To fix the problem, DEP worked with Rosebud and EPA to come up with the agreement for a National Pollution Discharge Elimination System Permit for the St. Michael facility.
Earlier this year, Rosebud selected WSP Digital’s E-Records Information Management System (ERIMS) to handle its environmental data management and compliance reporting. The coal company uses ERIMS to standardize and streamline processes for meeting permit requirements, managing field and laboratory data, and producing reports for regulatory agencies and internal use.