Thursday, April 22, 2021

South Fayette Conservation Group, DEP To Dedicate Gladden Acid Mine Drainage Treatment Plant In Allegheny County; Federal AML Funding To Expire

On April 27, Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Patrick McDonnell will join project partners and stakeholders for a dedication ceremony of the
South Fayette Conservation Group’s Gladden acid mine drainage (AMD) treatment plant. 

The  $13,048,446 facility will improve water quality and restore portions of Millers Run and Chartiers Creek for fishing and recreational opportunities. 

In addition to DEP and South Fayette Conservation Group, partners on this project include the federal Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement, South Fayette Township, Tetra Tech, Inc., Chapman Corporation, AMD Industries, John Kosky Contracting, Inc., Infinity Drilling, Ligonier Construction Company, GAI Consultants, and Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission.

The Gladden AMD treatment plant will treat 2.2 million gallons and remove 690 pounds of iron pollution per day from the Chartiers Creek watershed, eliminating one of the largest discharges in the watershed, which currently accounts for 40 percent of the iron load. 

The department expects four miles of Millers Run and three and a half miles of Chartiers Creek will be restored to a warm water, trout-stocked fishery with improved recreational uses as a result. 

Millers Run is on the Fish and Boat Commission stocking list upstream of the discharge. The sections of both streams that will be restored flow past a number of parks and development projects and are visible from Interstate 79 in Allegheny County.

The discharge, which ranges from 750 to 1,500 gallons per minute, originates from the abandoned deep mine of the Pittsburgh Coal Company’s Montour No. 2 underground mining complex. 

The plant includes two pumping stations to extract the AMD water from the mine pool and bring it to the surface for treatment using oxidation, hydrogen peroxide and alkaline addition to form solid precipitates, and clarification equipment to remove the precipitated metals and solids from the water with a polishing pond. 

The treated water will be discharged to Millers Run. The sludge will be pumped to a vacant mine that is not hydraulically connected for disposal.  

An additional aspect of the total project consists of stream sealing Fishing Run. An Operation Scarlift study and report on Chartiers Creek revealed that there were large flow losses of Fishing Run due to mine subsidence. 

An investigation determined that the flow losses of Fishing Run were entering the mine and eventually leaving as AMD-polluted water at the Gladden discharge. 

Sealing the streambed will keep the stream flowing year-round and reduce the amount of AMD requiring treatment. 

Federal Reclamation Funding To Expire

This project would not have been possible without federal Abandoned Mine Reclamation Funding which is due to expire in September.

Funding for this project comes from the AMD abatement and treatment program (AMD Set-Aside Program) authorized in the federal Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA) and the federal Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement AML Pilot Program, which specifically targets abandoned mine cleanup projects that are linked to local community and economic development goals.

The Pennsylvania AML Campaign, a coalition of conservation districts, watershed groups, and other local nonprofit groups also support reauthorization of the AML fee collection.

Visit the Our Work’s Not Done website supported by states involved in the federal abandoned mine reclamation program, including Pennsylvania.

Visit DEP’s Abandoned Mine Reclamation Program webpage to learn more about this program.

(Photo: South Fayette Conservation Group.)

Related Articles:

-- In Memoriam: Louise Dunlap A Leading Force Behind Coal Mine Reclamation, Regulation 

-- U.S. House Hearing On Reauthorizing Federal Abandoned Mine Lands Program: We Don’t Deserve To Wait Any Longer For Clean Streams, Diversified Economies

[Posted: April 22, 2021]  PA Environment Digest

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