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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  Sloans  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  Sloans  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  companys  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  Sloans  Valley  Region  and  Lake  Cumberland.   The  Sloans  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  Sloans  Valley  Cave  System  was  nominated  as  a  Significant  Federal  Cave  in  1997.  Sloans  Valley  and  
 
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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  Sloans  Valley  Cave  System  and  the  Sloans  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  Sloans  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
 
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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  
 
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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.  
 
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