USA. Pennsylvania Governor Rendell plans water treatment & recreational facilities for abandoned mine lands in Schuylkill County

Thursday, 30 November 2006

Governor Edward G. Rendell today announced the groundbreaking for a series of projects that will treat abandoned mine drainage and improve quality of life for residents in the community of Mary D in Schuylkill County.

The wide-ranging projects entail constructing a mine drainage treatment facility on the present site of community baseball fields, which will be replaced by a modern multi-sport recreational facility to be built on donated abandoned mine lands. Mine drainage treatment projects also will be constructed at two nearby locations.

"As we continue to repair the damage left by the unregulated mining practices of the past, we are doing more than just grading land and planting trees," Governor Rendell said. "We are also reclaiming our former mining communities by improving the quality of life for local residents and returning these lands to productive use for recreation and economic development."

The $967,000 project will turn the old baseball field, currently owned by the Mary D Fire Co., into a passive mine drainage treatment system to treat up to 1,000 gallons per minute of acidic discharges from long-abandoned underground mines. The Blaschak Coal Corp. of Mahanoy City, Schuylkill County, has donated approximately 10 acres of abandoned mine land for the site of a year-round recreation facility that will be much closer to the community.

Environmental Protection Secretary Kathleen A. McGinty attended the groundbreaking with local officials, business representatives and community organizations. DEP is contributing $200,000 for construction of the treatment facilities, as well as $47,000 in in-kind contributions for project design and technical assistance on the reclamation of the donated Blaschak land.

"Pennsylvania has the largest abandoned mine problem in the country," McGinty said. "We make our greatest progress cleaning up these dangerous sites and restoring our waterways when we combine scarce state and federal funding with financial and in-kind contributions from local communities and private industry."

In addition to DEP's funding, work will be financed by $100,000 from the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources for construction of recreation facilities and easement costs; $110,000 from Exelon Corp. to build a wetland to treat acid mine discharge; and $510,000 from the William Penn Foundation for treatment and recreation facilities construction.

DCNR's funds will be used to develop a new six-acre facility that includes a baseball field; a regulation soccer field; basketball courts; walking path; handicap accessible concession, pavilion and restroom facilities; parking; fencing and bleachers.

"Our investment in the replacement of this local park will create an asset that will help to keep families healthy, and make the community economically vibrant and a great place to live, work and play," DCNR Secretary Michael DiBerardinis said.

Funding by Exelon and William Penn also will help to finance expansion of the existing mine drainage treatment system at the nearby Bell Colliery, along with a project at Mackeysburg that will keep surface water out of the existing underground mine pool. Both of these projects will further protect and improve water quality in the headwaters of the Schuylkill River.

Other organizations providing administrative and technical assistance and other services include the Schuylkill Headwaters Association, Delaware River Basin Commission, Eastern Schuylkill Recreation Commission, Schuylkill County Commissioners, Schuylkill County Conservation District, Schuylkill Township, Mary D Fire Co., Mary D Baseball Association, Enterprising Environmental Solutions Inc., URS Corp. and Stell Environmental Enterprises Inc.

Pennsylvania has more than 180,000 acres of unmarked shafts, unstable cliffs, water-filled pits and abandoned equipment and buildings left over from when mining was largely unregulated prior to 1977.

Governor Rendell's $625 million Growing Greener II initiative provides significant funding to address a vast array of environmental and public health problems at abandoned mine sites in Pennsylvania. The voter-approved program allocates $60 million to clean up rivers and streams affected by abandoned acid mine drainage and reclaim abandoned mine lands scarred by dangerous highwalls, mine openings and water-filled pits, and $27.5 million to assist with the development and rehabilitation of local parks and recreation areas.

The Governor has also been a leader in the fight to ensure that the U.S. Congress reauthorizes the federal mine reclamation fund and that Pennsylvania secures funds sufficient to address this problem. Nearly one of every ten people in Pennsylvania live within one mile of a dangerous abandoned mine.

Last Updated ( Thursday, 30 November 2006 )