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Environmental Protections Win Bullpen Fork Mine Approval

Release Date: 4/15/1999
Contact Information: Patrick Boyle, (215) 814-5533

HUNTINGTON. W. Va. - W. Michael McCabe, regional administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, said a mining permit approved today shows that federal agencies can expedite mine permitting decisions and still protect the environment.

The U. S. Army Corps of Engineers today issued a landfill permit under the Clean Water Act (Section 404) for the Vandalia - Bullpen Fork surface contour mine in Bickmore, Clay County, West Virginia. The mine is owned by Pittston Coal Management Co. of Charleston and will be operated by Vandalia Resources, Inc.

The mine is not a mountaintop removal mine, but rather a contour mine, so called because miners follow the coal seam around the contour of the land, mining from hillside slopes instead of removing the rocky mountaintop to get at the coal. The Vandalia - Bullpen Fork Mine includes two valley fills which are designed to minimize environmental impacts.

McCabe said, "This mine underwent very close scrutiny. Pittston modified its application to reduce the size of fills, reduced stream impacts by 20 percent, agreed to channel clean water through the mine from the hill above, and will improve the instream sedimentation pond. These measures provided a considerable measure of environmental protection."

"We promised West Virginia that we would make permit decisions quickly so that coal can be mined, people can be employed, and the environment can be protected. We worked closely with the Corps and other federal agencies, the state Department of Environmental Protection, and the company in issuing this permit because this project is designed to minimize environmental damage," McCabe explained.