Cessation order issued for mine near Kanawha State Forest

CHRIS DORST | Gazette-Mail
Opponents of the K.D. No. 2 Mine near Kanawha State Forest demonstrate Friday morning outside West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection headquarters in Kanawha City. While the protesters were there, DEP officials said they had issued an order to halt operations at the mine.
Photo courtesy Vivian Stockman, Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition
This June 2014 aerial photo shows the surface mine adjacent to Kanawha State Forest, which is located in the upper left of the area shown. Flyover courtesy of Southwings.

As dozens of residents protested outside West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection headquarters Friday morning, DEP officials said they had ordered a mine near Kanawha State Forest to stop operations because of repeated violations.

Keystone Development holds the permit for the K.D. No. 2 Mine run by Revelation Energy, a 413-acre mountaintop removal operation adjacent to the 9,300-acre state forest.

DEP officials said in a statement Friday that they had issued a “failure to abate cessation order” for the mine, after citing the operators for violations more than 20 times since the permit for the mine was issued 13 months ago.

The violations cited by the DEP include failure to properly construct and maintain sediment-control structures, failure to protect off-site areas from landslides, exceeding blasting limits, failure to meet monitoring, sampling and reporting requirements and exceeding water-quality discharge limits, according to the DEP’s news release.

The DEP also said Revelation Energy and Keystone Development have been entered into the national Applicant Violator System. That prevents either company from getting new permits anywhere in the country, according to the DEP.

To get the mining cessation order lifted, the DEP told Revelation Energy that it “would need to submit and get DEP approval of a plan to fully abate the violations and to reclaim the site.”

Demonstrators outside DEP headquarters in Kanawha City were encouraged Friday after they learned of the cessation order.

“[The] DEP seems to be moving in the right way,” said Chad Caldwell, a leader of the Kanawha Forest Coalition. “We are not here to berate them. We are here to encourage them.”

However, Caldwell also said, “If [the] DEP had listened to our concerns, they never would have issued this permit in the first place. We sent a petition to Governor Earl Ray Tomblin with 5,000 signatures. He ignored it.”

Jim Waggy, another member of the Kanawha Forest Coalition, said, “There are a number of people in this [DEP] building who really do want to do the right thing.

“[The] DEP has monitored this mine. They asked Revelation Energy, ‘Where are your water records?’ The company said they couldn’t find them,” Waggy said. “Acid is impairing water quality near the mine.”

No one returned telephone calls to Revelation Energy’s local headquarters in Milton. Revelation, founded in 2009, focuses on surface mining and related projects in Central Appalachia.

No one answered telephone calls at Keystone’s headquarters in Fort Myers, Florida, Friday afternoon. A Keystone employee said via email that someone would contact a Gazette-Mail reporter, but no one had, as of 5 p.m. Friday.

On its website, Keystone Industries says it has 6,000 acres of coal reserves in West Virginia, which serve industrial and electricity-producing customers. Keystone also operates coal mines in Colombia, Canada, Bulgaria, China and South Korea, according to its website.

Caldwell said the K.D. No. 2 mine “is getting closer and closer to the Kanawha State Forest and to people’s homes.”

Lynn Hartman, another resident, said, “I moved from Florida to West Virginia to get away from overdevelopment and crowds. West Virginia’s greatest asset is not what is underneath the mountains. It is the mountains.”

Reach Paul J. Nyden at pjnyden@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5164.

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