Plans to remove a large Mine 37 bony pile could have the green light to proceed soon.
State Department of Environmental Protection officials said Ebensburg Power Co.’s proposal to remove 1.7 million tons of waste coal from the property is in the final stage of the state’s mine permit process – one that typically takes four to six weeks to complete.
“The Cambria County Bureau of (District) Mining (Operations) office has finished their review of the application ... and now it’s down to Ebensburg Power posting their bond,” DEP spokesman John Poister said.
Once that happens, the company would receive its permit and have up to three years to start work, he said.
The company already has indicated it hopes to get to work as soon as this year. Representatives told Richland Township officials in February the company plans to remove the pile truck-by-truck, often six days a week over a period of years. As the coal-covered land is cleared, the company would bring the still-acidic site back to life by replacing the bony with a mix of moisturized coal ash, limestone, new soil and grass seed.
“They oughta give that company a medal for doing this project,” said Ron Corl, a Windber resident who owns property near the coal waste pile.
“It’s going to get rid of an eyesore and take care of creek pollution we’ve had in the Paint Creek for a long time.”
The project was also well received by residents in neighboring Richland Township who attended township hearings about the project in late 2013 and 2014 – particularly after project engineers said they would take steps to improve safety at their haul road’s intersection with Mine 37 Road.
Some residents had voiced concern that vehicles on the winding Mine 37 Road might not see coal trucks exiting the haul road, and vice versa.
Richland’s zoning and hearing board approved Ebensburg Power’s request in March for a special exception – a township prerequisite before work can begin on the site.
David Hurst covers Richland Township for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/tddavidhurst.