Paul Ehret Director, Division of Mine Permits Department for Natural Resources 2 Hudson Hollow Frankfort, Kentucky 40601 June 18, 2008 Re: Permit Conference, Jamieson Construction Company, DMRE 900 ‐ 0047 NW. Dear Mr. Ehret: These comments are submitted for agency consideration regarding permit No. 900 ‐ 0047 NW, DMRE ID No. 001392, for Jamieson Construction Company (Applicant) in the Sloans Valley/Neelys Creek catchment area and its cave systems, draining to Lake Cumberland. The comments are submitted on behalf of the Sierra Club and its Kentucky Cumberland Chapter whose members live, work, and recreate in the Sloans Valley, Neelys Creek and Lake Cumberland area, and are tendered in response to the public notice soliciting public comment on the proposed agency action. The Cumberland Chapter, founded in 1968, encompasses the Commonwealth of Kentucky and since its founding has grown to more than 3600 members. The Cumberland Chapter is a member of the Midwest Regional Conservation Committee and an affiliate of the Appalachian regional Conservation Committee. We believe that the companys permit application contains the following serious deficiencies and cannot be approved in its current form. Our comments below are based on April 2008 application adjustments submitted by the applicant. Dr. Hilary Lambert requested and received another look at the permit file on June 16, 2008 and on that date was provided with a mid ‐ July 2007 version of the file, with no subsequent changes provided, or any indication that further changes and updates may be underway. 1. Mining would permanently degrade the aesthetic value and diminish tourism revenue generation of the Sloans Valley Region and Lake Cumberland. The Sloans Valley / Neelys Creek catchment area contains all the surface and groundwater resources, including 25+ miles of cave passage, the 74 th longest in the world, 4 th longest in Kentucky, and longest in Eastern Kentucky. The Sloans Valley Cave System was nominated as a Significant Federal Cave in 1997. Sloans Valley and
Neelys Creek are within the viewshed of Lake Cumberland, an important recreation destination for millions of people within and beyond the borders of the Commonwealth. Mining activities would permanently impact the Sloans Valley Cave System and the Sloans Valley / Neelys Creek catchment area with unforeseeable and potentially catastrophic impacts to subsurface drainage, surface water quality, water wells, karst structures and building foundations. Karst aquifers receive distributed recharge from percolation through the soil and concentrated recharge from surface runoff that flows directly into the aquifer at stream sinks (swallets) and sinkhole drains. Because of the rapid velocities of these underground streams, contaminants may travel several miles through the aquifer in only a few hours. 1 Any drainage from surface mining operations would increase sedimentation, siltation, and Acid Mine Drainage (AMD) in all downstream surface and subsurface streams and ultimately degrade water quality in Lake Cumberland. Siltation, acid runoff, and sulfur by ‐ products of mining as well as diesel, hydraulic fluid and other chemical spills will be harmful to streams and the environment. Chemical spills and runoff will indirectly flow into Cumberland Lake creating pollution absorbed by fish and other wildlife within the food chain. This pollution absorbed by fish and other wildlife could adversely affect human health, particularly the young and elderly. The water quality and appearance of this area is vital to tourism and particularly fishing, to the residents, the fish, plants and animals (not to mention drinking water) living in or near the watershed. The re ‐ constitution of Wolf Dam and subsequent lowering of the water gives some indication of the potential economic loss of tourism. Mining activities would negatively impact revenue generation in the Lake Cumberland region. The recreational and ecological assets of the Lake Cumberland region, generates in excess of $150 million annually, primarily from seasonal tourism. Surface coal mining constitutes a permanent taking of the aesthetic value of the Sloans Valley Region and would diminish tourism revenue generation potential in a region of Eastern Kentucky historically independent of coal tax revenue.
1 Introduction to Karst Environmental Problems Groundwater Contamination http://www.dyetracing.com/karst/ka01013.html
2. The DMRE No. 900 ‐ 0047 application is incomplete, unavailable for public review prior to the close of the public comment period, and does not comply with Kentuckys Antidegradation Implementation Agreements with USEPA. Although the Department of Natural Resources has deemed the application complete, correspondence from the Cabinet to Crystal Lashon of Geotechnical Services Inc. dated May 23, 2008 states the application has been placed in Technically Withdrawn (TWW) status and details 26 sections and numerous subsections where the DMRE No. 900 ‐ 0047 application has been deemed deficient by the Cabinet. These deficiencies include: Within the Critical Resources Review Section (CRRS), applicant failed to adequately address and demonstrate tree replanting density and watering areas as required by the Indiana Bat Protection and Enhancement Plan (PEP). The Technical Review Section is incomplete, including, but not limited to the following: • Failure to identify a spring and haul road ditch facility numbers. • Failure to identify a public wildlife management area and the pending LUM 08 ‐ 1 petition. • Failure to identify the mining commencement date and duration. • Failure to specifically describe what Best Management Practices (BMP) will be employed. • Failure to include a description of the karst formations in the permitted area. • Failure to provide ground water sampling data. • Failure to accurately identify the impacted reach of Neelys Creek as ephemeral or intermittent and provide adequate samples. • Failure to accurately portray previous mining operations in the watershed. • Failure to report water quality impacts to ground water supplies. • Failure to identify the impact of lime and fertilizer to karst formations. • Failure to provide a timeline for alternate sources of water. • Failure to accurately identify the coal seam elevation. • Failure to justify the coal seam thickness. • Failure to Explain why the acreage for hollow fill #1 volume calculations does not match the acreage on the mining and reclamation plan (MRP) map. • Failure to insure all toxic materials (grease, lubricants, and flammable liquids) should be temporarily stored on bench and away from a natural drain area. Failure to explain how the applicant will ensure a thorough blending of the spoil • to create a net neutralization. • Failure to consider maintaining the grass waterways, straw bales and/or silt fences around the haul road during mining operations. With the nature of this
area (Lake Cumberland, disturbance within 100 of a stream, and the karst system), these sediment control methods could be very beneficial in reduction of sedimentation resulting from the haul road activities. • Failure to provide further justification for the grade and culvert spacing variance. The Groundwater Review Section is incomplete, including, but not limited to the following: • Failure to provide a description of all aquifers located adjacent to the mining area of the permit and within the road acreage of the permit including those of the karst system. • Failure to accurately state that karst topography has basically eliminated the potential of obtaining potable water in the valley bottoms in the immediate vicinity of the proposed mining. The applicant has documented with his own water sampling of monitoring site SW ‐ 1 that there is a potential of obtaining potable water from the cave systems in the adjacent valley bottoms. • Failure to describe the probable hydrologic consequence of the haul road located in the valley bottom on the limestone and adjacent to karst features. Specifically, to discuss the possible affects that sediment, water runoff, traffic, and any chemicals used for dust control or on vehicles that may occur during the construction, reclamation, and use of the haul road. • Failure to provide a description of protective measures that must be more site ‐ specific for the proposed permit such as describing the actual sediment control plans for the ponds, when alternate sediment control measurements will be used, and where energy dissipaters will be used. • Failure to describe the protection measures that will be taken during the haul road construction and use of this road when the road is within the limestone and adjacent to the karst features. The Compliance Review Section is incomplete, including, but not limited to the following: • Failure to provide the calculations for the backfill mine area. • Failure to provide lateral drains around the Upper Beaver Creek coal seam. • Failure to extend the under drain of the hollow fill over the coal seams. • Failure to provide justification for the diversion ditches to be constructed in backfill. • Failure to clarify the under drain size. • Failure to include the rock check dam on the MRP map. • Failure to include the slope on the sub watershed map. • Failure to clarify in Sec. 31.3 if ponds SS ‐ 1 and SS ‐ 4 are in series.