List of speakers and their presentations (where available) in no particular order…

John Stefanko, Deputy Secretary for Active and Abandoned Mine Operations, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, “The Future of Reclamation”

Keynote Address

Timothy Stahl, PA DEP, “Rebuilding Beaver Creek”

Beginning with the deep mining practices over a hundred and fifty years ago, portions of the creek were dammed, removed, diverted underground, and lost from the surface. Later strip mining altered the landscape, removed most of the streambed and stranded the water, thus eliminating the possibility of stream connectivity to points downstream.  The OSM 13(3206)101.1 – Tresckow South project located south of the Village of Tresckow, (Banks Township, Carbon County) is an opportunity to not only reclaim the abandoned mine site but to also begin to rebuild the Beaver Creek. Eliminating documented Priority 1 & 2 Health and Safety AML Features is the primary goal. In order to properly abate these features, stormwater flow must also be considered. The design conveys this flow downstream and off-site instead of infiltrating it on-site into the underground mine pool, thus the basis for a rebuilt creek.

Erica McBride, Pennsylvania Hemp Advisory Council, “Hemp for Bioremediation”

Hemp has long been known to extract heavy metals from soil. Now that Pennsylvania has enacted the Industrial Hemp Pilot Program, research is commencing to prove hemp’s potential on abandoned coal mine land at a fraction of the cost of more traditional remediation methods.

Sandra Holoman, PA DEP, “Subsidence Remediation Using Structural Support Methods on BAMR Emergency Projects”

The Bureau of Abandoned Mine Reclamation (BAMR) Wilkes-Barre District Office recently completed an emergency project to remediate a non-coal mine shaft subsidence beneath the attached garage of a private residence in Chester County. In Schuylkill County, BAMR is nearing completion on another emergency project to remediate a coal mine subsidence directly behind a private residence. On both projects, BAMR collaborated with Maurice Gardner, a Mine Subsidence Insurance Investigator for the DEP’s Mine Subsidence Insurance Program to assist with designing, specifying, and overseeing the installation of the structural foundation support system for the garage at the Chester County residence and for the steel beam support for the house superstructure at the Schuylkill County residence. Maurice has experience with structural foundation support systems as well as other repair work performed under Mine Subsidence Insurance claims.

Daniel Fiscus, Frostburg Grows, “Youth & Mine Reclamation”

Frostburg Grows is on a site that was formerly deep-mined and strip-mined for coal, used as a county dump, and most recently used to store FEMA trailers. Today, the site has been re-purposed and rejuvenated as a community-based, five-acre sustainability complex and training center.

George Ellis, ARIPPA, “Economic & Environmental Benefits of the PA Coal Refuse to Energy Industry”

In October 2016, ARIPPA released a report prepared by Econsult Solutions, a Philadelphia-based economic consulting firm, that analyzed the economic and environmental benefits of the 14 plants comprising PA’s coal refuse to energy industry.   His presentation will focus on the results of that study.

Mike Korb, P.E. “Making Mine Land Reclamation More of a Community Asset”

Active mine regulators require mine closure plans reclaimed to a specific post-mining land uses and abandoned mine reclamation focuses on minimizing hazards. Mine closure plans are seldom creative. This presentation will look at and discuss some of the pilot projects in progress, some past projects here and in other countries, and will touch on some “out-of-the-box” ideas for making mine closure and AML projects more sustainable and more of a community asset.

Mike Hewitt, EPCAMR, “A Tour of Germany’s Coal Fields”

Michael was one of 12 Americans invited to participate in the Engaging Coal Communities Tour of Berlin, Lausitz, and North Rhine-Westphalia Visitor Program hosted by the Heinrich Boell Foundation in November 2016. He had a terrific opportunity to see the lignite and hard coal regions of Germany and learned about their “just transition” away from fossil fuels and into renewable energy. The group had the opportunity to speak to government officials, power industry representatives, labor union representatives, local mayors, councilmen and foundation representatives about how communities, industry, and government worked together to make sure that their coal miners and mining landscapes were not left behind in the transition but were made to prosper and become centers for innovation and recreation.

Elizabeth Hughes, Earth Conservancy, “Lessons Learned from 25 Years of Recovery, ReUse, and Redevelopment”

In 1994, EC purchased the lands of the Blue Coal Corporation, which had declared bankruptcy in the mid-1970s. Generally located in the lower Wyoming Valley in Luzerne County, many of these 16,000 acres have been ignored, seen only as permanent eyesores and reminders of the past. EC, however, views these lands as an opportunity for growth, progress, and transformation. To this end, EC has devoted the last 25 years working toward environmental and economic recovery in the region through reclamation of these legacy mine lands. The proposed presentation will provide an overview of EC’s history and work, and lessons gained through its experiences.

Andy Freifeld, Temple University, “Landscape Design and Reuse Planning in Mine Reclamation”

Funding for mine land reclamation is difficult to acquire and, while the environmental benefits of reclamation are fully understood, the economic benefits of reclamation are just beginning to be appreciated. Innovations in landscape design and reuse planning can attract partnerships with lenders and investors and spur the economic development associated with reuse of abandoned mine lands. Strategies like energy development, carbon sequestration, and wetland banking can address environmental concerns, but should also preserve historical and cultural legacies in order to maximize economic gain. These environmental strategies are now being encouraged by State and Federal agencies, while the cultural legacies are more universally overlooked. This presentation will discuss the ways in which environmental design of reclamation projects could benefit both economically and environmentally by the inclusion of preservation and consideration of historical and cultural legacies of the sites, while still utilizing core environmental strategies.

Colin Lennox, Eco Islands LLC, “Metal Reclamation Units for AMD and Nutrient Cycling”

Metal Reclamations Units (MRUs) are passive, modular, scalable, rapidly deployed wetland bioreactors. The biofilm which grows upon the support matrix inside the MRUs is self-selecting and determined by the introduced pollutants and how they are attenuated throughout the treatment process. Currently, our systems function as tertiary treatment at six sites removing Mn and Al, pH<7, where residual Fe and Al are captured to below 0.35mg/L and Mn is removed at rates up to 200+grams/m2/day to achieve TMDLs (3,4). At another site, raw treatment of dissolved Fe, pH <5.5 max to 3.2> minimum, demonstrated rates up to 4kg/day of Fe captured using two MRUs Mk1.5s in series, residence 20-25 minutes, flow 280Lpm (5).

Matt MacConnell, Lehigh River Stocking Association, “Lausanne Tunnel Remediation Progress”

The Lausanne Tunnel in Jim Thorpe was installed in 1906 to dewater the coal fields in this area. The tunnel discharges about 6000 gal/min of drainage that is relatively high in iron and manganese but fortunately, the pH is relatively high and aluminum content is low. The remediation installed in 2004 was a two part passive wetland system that has been the focus of the conservation efforts by a number of conservation organizations since that time. My involvement has been to engage the local Sierra Club as well, the local trout stocking clubs and other organizations to provide funding and manpower for upgrades at the site. In 2007, two 5ft rectangular weir flow monitors were installed, one in the wetland and the other in the bypass flow, which consists of 2/3rd of the tunnel discharge flow. Pressure transducers and solar powered data loggers were installed to record both flows so that further hydrological engineering could be applied to optimize the wetland treatment while also devising a treatment plan for the bypass flow. In 2011, artesian aerators were added to the feeder pipes to improve aeration of the water entering the wetland. The aerators, however, did consume some of the available head pressure and reduced wetland feed flow so in 2014 a 3rd 14” feeder pipe was excavated and installed bringing the wetland flow rate back to the 1800 gal/min design rate. In 2016, a solar powered compressor was installed with two aerator heads added to the wetland to further boost dissolved oxygen. Iron test kits and dissolved oxygen monitors have been used to evaluate the iron removal effectiveness of the wetland and the extent of oxygen saturation. The next steps at for further improvement are the installation of cascading settling basins in the bypass flow as well as optimization of the wetland flow distribution. This presentation will feature presentation of technical flow and composition data as well as drone video of the site.

Hank Zielinski, Northhampton Generating Company, “Excellence in Surface Coal Mining and Reclamation – Loomis Bank Operation”

The Department of the Interior’s Office of Surface Coal Mining Reclamation and Enforcement presented Northampton Fuel Supply Company, Inc. (NFS) with the “Excellence in Surface Coal Mining and Reclamation” National Award in September 2016 for the land reclamation at the Loomis Bank Operation off of Middle Road in Luzerne County, Hanover Township, PA. The Loomis site was an abandoned culm bank that covered over 100 acres of land. NFS started operations at the site in the late nineties and processed over a million tons of the culm material converting it to a viable fuel for power generation at Northampton Generating Company, LP’s (NGC) power plant located in Northampton, PA.

Ryan Ellis, IMCC, “Update on AML-related Legislative Activity in the New 115th Congress”

An update on AML-related legislative activity so far in 2017 and the current outlook for expected activity during the 115th Congress. Including Budget and Appropriations, The RECLAIM Act (H.R. 1731), Good Samaritan liability protections, The AML Pilot Program, and others.

Tom Clark, SRBC, “AMD Restoration Protection Through Delisting and Reclassification”

AMD treatment, AML reclamation, remining, revegetation, a lessening of acid deposition, and natural attenuation are improving stream quality throughout the coal regions of the Susquehanna River Basin. However, these improving streams, for the most part, are not being delisted from the Integrated List of Impaired Waters even though they are now quality capable. In addition, many stream segments are listed as impaired in error since necessary funding and manpower was not available at the time of assessment to define what stream segment(s) of a particular watershed is actually impaired. Consequently, entire watersheds are listed as impaired, when only certain stream segments of that watershed should be listed. In 2016, the Susquehanna River Basin Commission and Department of Environmental Protection enacted an effort to assess streams that have possibly improved enough for impairment delisting, correct impairment listing errors, and better define what stream segments in a particular watershed are actually impaired. These impairment delistings will help ensure the protection of these streams and, in some cases, could improve protection further through reclassification to high-quality (HQ) and exceptional value (EV).

Anne Daymut, WPCAMR, “SMCRA Reauthorization Toolkit”

With the end of the current SMCRA Title IV fee collection slated for 2021, the non-profit community in Pennsylvania has been gearing up for reauthorization efforts. Materials such as a poster, flyers, e-newsletter articles, brochure, website, and a draft of an informative video will be presented as part of an outreach toolkit. The toolkit will be adaptable for use by other states and tribes working towards the reauthorization of the fees associated with SMCRA Title IV.

Joe Pizarchik, Former Director of OSMRE, “Strategies Moving Forward”

Joe Pizarchik was the 10th Director of the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE). An Indiana County, Pennsylvania native, Joseph Pizarchik attended the Pennsylvania State University, first at the Altoona Campus and then graduating from University Park in 1979. Pizarchik was one of the authors of Pennsylvania’s Environmental Good Samaritan Act and provided counsel during the development and implementation of the Good Samaritan program. Pizarchik is also credited with helping clear the way for the sale of private mining property to the Families of Flight 93 to enable the construction of the national memorial, a project to which he remains committed.

Kathy Jeremiah, Northumberland County Planning and Development, “From AML to an Off-Highway Vehicle Facility”

The Northumberland County Commissioners holds in trust 94 parcels, or 6,500 acres, of abandoned coal land, impacted by unregulated mining practices and contained coal spoils, open strip mine pits and abandoned coal mining operation structures.   A project to turn this area into an outdoor recreation facility for off highway vehicles appealed to the Commissioners eight years ago.  The Anthracite Outdoor Adventure Area officially opened for business on May 17, 2014, with over 10,000 users last year utilizing the trail system.