The following Responsiveness Summary was prepared by the Division of Surface Water of Ohio EPA to address comments and questions raised during the public participation component of the review of Ohio Valley Coal Company's Section 401, NPDES, and PTI applications for permits to expand their coarse coal refuse pile at Alledonia in Belmont County, Ohio. Ohio EPA conducted the public hearing on May 6, 1999 at Belmont Technical College, St. Clairsville, Ohio and accepted comments through May 10,1999.
Ohio EPA organized this Responsiveness Summary to address all topics raised at the hearing. The statements presented in bold below are meant to address all concerns, questions, and comments raised at the public hearing.
1. Filling of Perkins Run and its tributaries will result in the total elimination of existing aquatic life uses. For these reasons, the 401 water quality certification should be denied.
The director's decision on whether to grant or deny water quality certification is based on whether the project will maintain existing aquatic life uses.
2. The increased discharge of pollutants will result in the lowering of water quality in Perkins Run and Captina Creek. For this reason, the NPDES and PTI permits should be denied.
There are approximately 400 feet of Perkins Run which will remain unaffected by this mining proposal. This section will receive the discharge from outfall 013, which is expected to have minimal impact on Perkins Run and Captina Creek because it will meet effluent limitations and because it contributes only 4% of the total flow of Perkins Run. The remaining 96% comes from the slurry impoundment and is of good water quality as discussed under A14 below.
Captina Creek is designated in Ohio law as an Exceptional Warmwater Habitat (EWH) stream and it is attaining that goal based on monitoring in the mid 1990's. Ohio EPA believes that the stream will continue to attain with the proposed impacts of this project.
3. Ohio EPA should hold another public hearing due to the fact that OVCC does not have a complete mitigation plan in their Section 401 application
The public hearing has been scheduled for February 8, 2000 at the Belmont Technical College, Red Room, 120 Fox Shannon Place, St. Clairsvilie, Ohio. The meeting will begin at 6:30 pm.
4. Ohio EPA should not trust OVCC to provide truthful information about stream
water quality before and after impact because they have proven themselves to be unreliable due to the violations.
Ohio EPA is unable to undertake the cost of day to day collecting and analyzing of water samples. However1 Ohio EPA does chemical, physical, and biological monitoring of each basin on a 5 year rotating basis. If this monitoring notes a significant water quality reduction attributable to a discharge, the effluent limitations are reviewed and adjusted, if necessary. Ohio EPA biological monitoring of Captina Creek in the mid 1990's did not show a reduction in water quality on Captina Creek due to the existing refuse pile.
5. There cannot be a proper evaluation of Perkins Run when OVCC has already destroyed it.
The applicant submitted Qualitative Habitat Evaluation Index (QHEl) forms, chemical monitoring information, and photo documentation for Perkins Run and its tributaries. However! it is true that the filled portion of Perkins Run cannot be further evaluated now that OVCC has culverted it.
6. Ohio EPA should deny this permit to save Dysart Woods.
Regulation of coal mining is the responsibility of ODNR, Division of Mines and Reclamation. Mining beneath Dysart Woods is not being reviewed under any of the applications being considered by Ohio EPA. OVCC does not currently have a permit from ODNR to mine beneath Dysart Woods.
7. Backfilling should receive more consideration to alleviate subsidence and the landfill problems.
Backfilling with coal refuse can create ground water contamination as a trade off for surface water pollution. There is potential for creating significantly more groundwater pollution through back stowing than a properly designed refuse disposal area on the surface. Subsidence is not regulated by Ohio EPA, Division of Surface Water. Ohio EPA did review an OVCC report regarding the potential for subsidence of the abandoned mine beneath the proposed landfill.
8. How will landfill expansion affect people who live in the area?
This disposal site is fairly remote and is not readily visible from the highway. Groundwater will be monitored for signs of impact. However, significant groundwater impact is not expected due to the liner, cap, and leachate collection systems included in this design. The effects of pollution, if any, from the refuse disposal area are not human health threatening. Dust may be a potential problem but this permit to install contains conditions for fugitive dust control. OVCC does not expect the landfill expansion to be accompanied by an increase in production at the mine.
9. What is the significance of the number of jobs at the mine?
The Antidegradation Rule requires that Ohio EPA consider social and economic impacts of various alternatives of doing a project and weigh them against the water quality impacts that may impair the water body's use. The number of jobs at the mine is relevant to the economic impacts of the project.. Ohio Valley Coal Company employs 450 full time employees with an annual payroll of $25 million. Jobs and payroll projections are just a portion of the social and economic impacts.
10. Coal refuse is a waste and should be regulated as such.
Coal refuse is specifically exempt from regulation as a solid waste by Ohio EPA, Division of Solid and Infectious Waste rules (see Ohio Administrative Code 3745-27-Ol (B)(40)). The refuse is classified as "other wastes" and its disposal is regulated under Chapter 6111 of the Ohio Revised Code.
11. The practice of the Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE) issuing a NW2I pending Section 401 water quality certification should be discontinued because this creates confusion. Could this have contributed to OVCC's illegal construction?
Ohio has denied water quality certification for Nationwide Permit 21-surface coal mining. The ACOE presently does not require individual 404 permits for surface coal mining applicants. Instead the ACOE covers surface coal mining activity under Nationwide Permit 21 if Ohio EPA issues Section 401 water quality certification. Section 401 water quality certification, NPDES, and PTI applications were pending at Ohio EPA in April of 1999 when Ohio EPA discovered that the project had been started.
12. A copy of the applications should be placed at the county court house to enable easier public review.
Ohio's Antidegradation Rule at 3745-1-05 (C)(3) requires that the director publish a public notice within thirty days regarding receipt of an application. There is no requirement that Ohio EPA place a copy of the application in the county court house. If an interested party wishes to review the application, Ohio EPA's normal practice has been to allow them to do so at the central or district offices.
However, Ohio EPA will provide a copy of the Section 401 application, and the draft Permit to Install, and draft NPDES permit at the St. Clairsville Public Library in St. Clairsville at 108 W. Main Street, 43950-1225 (contact Sheila Perkins at (740)695-2062). Copies may also be inspected at the Ohio EPA-DSW, 122 South Front Street, P.O. Box 1049, Columbus, Ohio 43216-1049 by first calling (614)644-2001. Lastly, copies may be inspected at Ohio EPA's Southeast District Office, 2195 Front Street, Logan, Ohio by first calling (740)385-8501, or at any other Ohio EPA district office by calling 614/644-2001.
13. Ohio EPA should require an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)
riparian inventory to determine full extent of damage to the overall hydrologic balance.
Under the ODNR mining permit, the applicant is required to provide a Cumulative Hydrologic Impact Assessment and a Probable Hydrologic Impact Assessment. These are available by contacting the ODNR, Division of.Mines and Reclamation. An EIS is not required for Ohio EPA to review this project. Ohio EPA does not have the legal authority to do this analysis. Regarding the riparian inventory, we do not believe that this would have a bearing on any of the Ohio EPA permits.
14. Please explain how effluent from OVCC1s slurry impoundment does not need treatment.
The slurry impoundment is already a permitted treatment facility and is not covered by the antidegradation regulation. However, the slurry impoundment receives pH adjustment and a polymer (for settling enhancement) in the discharge line from the preparation plant. Also, the impoundment itself provides seffling volume for suspended iseffleable solids removal. OVCC monitoring of the effluent from the slurry impoundment has shown good water quality not needing treatment before release to Perkins Run and subsequently Captina Creek. Ohio EPA monitoring of Captina Creek in 1996 did not show a lowering of water quality from this effluent.
15. Long term impacts from this fill need to be considered. (Failure of the landfill)
This refuse disposal facility design is state of the art for this
type of facility. A complex
liner system is provided to capture uncontaminated groundwater and to direct it away from any potential contamination, and a second collection system exists to Control contaminated leachate. The generation of leachate should be minimized in the long term after the clay cap, fill and topsoil are placed on top of the refuse. Any leachate that does exist after closure will be treated by Ohio Valley Coal Company as required by the NPDES permit. The permit will be revoked only if the site no longer contributes pollution to the waters of the state.
16. Ohio EPA should monitor streams in and around Dysart Woods to determine the impact of longwall mining on water quality.
As stated above, mining beneath Dysart Woods is not being considered under any of the Ohio EPA permits.
17. Economics of coal mining over the long term are negative.
In the particular applications under consideration, Ohio EPA is reviewing the economic impacts of the coal refuse pile expansion specifically and not the economics of the coal mining industry in general.
18. How did Ohio EPA derive the value of 72,000 gallons. per day to be treated?
It was an estimate of the maximum flow expected annually for pond 013. This pond has a watershed of 24.6 acres. If you assume an annual rainfall for Belmont County to be about 40 inches, the runoff volume would be about 72,000 gallons per day, assuming no evapotranspiration. A more reasonable estimate of the runoff based on an estimate of 39% of the rainfall actually producing runoff* yields about 28,000 gallons per day discharge.
*39% runoff factor based on information contained in Low-Flow Characteristics of Ohio Streams, U.S. Geological Survey, 1981.
19. Ohio EPA should deny the permits and pursue enforcement actions because of the OVCC violations of Ohio Revised Code 6111.45 for installation of a disposal system without first obtaining plan approval and Ohio Administrative Code Chapter 3745-31(A)(1) for installation or modification of a disposal system without first obtaining a permit to install.
Normally, when unauthorized activity has already taken place, Ohio EPA
continues to process the application to determine whether the unauthorized
activity would have been permitted. Granting the authorization, or not,
plays a part in the decision to pursue formal enforcement. Ohio EPA will
choose to either pursue enforcement or not pursue enforcement when the
authorization question is finally answered.