The Center for Coalfield Justice continues to monitor streams within Ryerson Station State Park that were undermined by Consol’s Bailey Lower East Expansion.
CCJ and Sierra Club filed four appeals before the Environmental Hearing Board related to Consol’s Bailey Lower East Expansion. In January 2017, the Environmental Hearing Board granted our petition for a supersedeas to Protect Kent Run within Ryerson Station Station State Park. As a result, Consol stopped longwall mining in the 3L panel 100 feet short of Kent Run, which is within Ryerson Station State Park. Then, in August 2017, the Environmental Hearing Board unanimously delivered a major victory to CCJ and Sierra Club in their consolidated appeal of Permit Revisions 180 and 189. As a result of that decision, Consol amended its mining plans and did not undermine Kent Run and Polen Run in the 4L panel. The portions of Kent Run and Polen Run that flow above the 4L panel are within Ryerson Station State Park. Unfortunately, in April 2018, the Environmental Hearing Board denied our petition for a supersedeas to prevent Consol from undermining the portion of Polen Run that flows over the 5L panel, which is within Ryerson Station State Park. Consol conducted longwall mining beneath Polen Run in the 5L panel last summer.
CCJ conducted visual monitoring in Polen Run during and after undermining. During those visual inspections, we noticed physical changes to the stream bed and banks. Due to back-to-back record-setting rainfall amounts in PA, as well as stream augmentation performed by Consol, which is the addition of water via another water source, the stream continued to flow. While CCJ is thankful that the stream did not dry up after mining, we are concerned that flow augmentation was necessary even though there were such high levels of precipitation this past summer and early fall.
In order to more effectively evaluate what kind of impact longwall mining has had on the stream within Ryerson Station State Park, CCJ has partnered with West Liberty University to conduct macroinvertebrate studies and chemical analysis of the streams. Macroinvertebrates are bugs and insects. If the bugs found are plentiful and diverse, then fish and other stream amphibians can thrive. This kind of biological monitoring will give us a clearer picture of the overall health of the streams post-mining. We have taken these steps to help ensure that mining and post-mining stream remediation within or near the Park is done without destroying these places for community members to fish, hike, picnic and recreate.
Our annual DRYerson Festival will be held on Saturday, June 22, 2019. Keep an eye out for more details, and we hope to see many of you there!