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LRH 2013-385-MUS

Published Aug. 18, 2014
Expiration date: 9/17/2014

PUBLIC NOTICE: The purpose of this public notice is to inform you of a proposal for work in which you might be interested. It is also to solicit your comments and information to better enable us to make a reasonable decision on factors affecting the public interest. We hope you will participate in this process.

TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN: The following application has been submitted for a Department of the Army Permit under the provisions of Section 404 of the Clean Water Act for the proposed discharge of fill material into waters of the United States (U.S.).  A copy of the application, including all supplemental materials (alternative analysis, compensatory mitigation plan, etc.), is available for review in the Dillon Lake Field Office, by appointment.  The proposed discharge is in conjunction with the construction, operation and reclamation of the Schooley Hollow Surface Mine (application 10505), which is currently being reviewed by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Mineral Resources Management (DMRM) pursuant to the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 (SMCRA).

APPLICANT:           Oxford Mining Company, LLC

                                544 Chestnut Street

                                Post Office Box 427

                                Coshocton, Ohio 43812

 

LOCATION: The proposed project is located within unnamed tributaries and wetlands to Salt Fork (HUC 05040005) within the Muskingum River watershed. The project site encompasses 1,028 acres and is located approximately 3.5 miles northwest of Barnesville, between County Road 114 (Fairview Road) and County Road 70 (Putney Ridge Road) at latitude 40.01534, longitude -81.22454, in Oxford Township, Guernsey County, and Warren Township, Belmont County, Ohio. See the attached Exhibit 1 and Exhibit 2 (Location Maps).

DESCRIPTION OF THE PROPOSED WORK: The applicant proposes to discharge 3,723 cubic yards of fill material into 139 linear feet (lf) of ephemeral stream, 14,095 lf of intermittent stream, 2,785 lf of perennial stream, 0.52 acre of stream impoundment and 0.99 acre of emergent wetland. In addition, 1,666 lf of stream will be affected by waste treatment to facilitate the mining operation. Fill discharge would be required to accomplish the coal extraction (mine-through method) of the Pittsburgh No. 8 and Meigs Creek No. 9 coal seams, construct temporary stream crossings, sediment ponds, diversion ditches, haul roads, and to dispose of the excess overburden material. The location and amount of discharge for the preferred alternative is identified in Exhibit 3. Mining of the site is estimated to take five years to complete.

Proposed discharges would occur in conjunction with the SMCRA application (10505) that is currently pending in the DMRM. The applicant's Section 404 permit application (including the compensatory mitigation plan) is available for public review in the Corps' Regulatory office, by appointment. A copy of the application can also be obtained by submitting a written request under the Freedom of Information Act.

ALTERNATIVES ANALYSIS: The applicant's stated overall project purpose is to develop and mine coal reserves in the Pittsburgh No. 8 and Meigs Creek No. 9 coal seams within the identified project area. This project is not water dependent; therefore, the applicant is required to show that other less damaging practicable alternatives are available, which do not require placing fill material into waters of the U.S. The applicant has developed three alternatives (preferred, minimal, and no-impact) and is analyzing how the mining operation, as well as the discharge of fill material into streams, could be conducted in order to avoid and minimize impacts to aquatic resources. The alternative must fulfill the applicant’s project purpose. The applicant's alternatives analysis is currently under review. No permit will be issued unless the alternatives analysis clearly demonstrates that practicable upland alternatives are not available to achieve the overall project purpose. The applicant’s preferred alternative would result in the discharge of fill material into 17,019 linear feet of jurisdictional stream channel, 0.52 acre of stream impoundment and 0.99 acre of wetland. The minimal alternative would result in the discharge of 10,744 linear feet of stream channel and 0.99 acre of wetland. The location and amount of discharge for the minimal alternative is identified in Exhibit 3.5. The application map for the preferred alternative is shown in Exhibit 4.

MINIMIZATION OF IMPACTS TO WATERS OF THE U.S.: The applicant has indicated that there is no practicable alternative for the proposed project that completely avoids the discharge of fill material into waters of the U.S. and will meet the project purpose. After reviewing the location of streams and wetlands in the project area in relation to the location of coal reserves, the applicant revised the permit area to avoid impacts to approximately 20,913 lf of stream and 9.72 acres of wetland. The applicant proposes to use the following methods to minimize the effects of suspended particles that enter the streams and wetlands during mining: the construction of fifteen sediment ponds, construction of diversion ditches, installation of silt fences, removal and storage of top soil away from the streams and wetlands, construction of temporary stockpiles of overburden material, and contemporaneous backfilling/grading of the overburden material. After mining, the applicant proposes to redistribute the topsoil, and seed, plant and mulch all of the disturbed areas which would aid in the prevention of the sediment entering the streams and wetlands. To minimize contact with the acid/toxic drainage produced by the land disturbance and non-coal waste impacting waters of the U.S., the applicant proposes to implement an approved materials handling plan (approved through SMCRA agency) which may include the isolation and appropriate burial of the acid/toxic spoil and/or the treatment of the mine drainage.  To minimize the potential for acid/toxic drainage coming from debris, during the mine development and the road construction impacting waters of the U.S., the applicant would insure the removal and storage of the topsoil and the proper construction of access roads. 

COMPENSATORY MITIGATION PLAN (CMP): The applicant has submitted a CMP to compensate for the proposed discharge of fill material to waters of the U.S. The CMP is available for public review at the Corps address below, by appointment. The applicant has proposed a permittee responsible on-site, in-kind mitigation that provides for a 1 to 1 ratio for the permanent and temporary fills of jurisdictional stream channels and a 1.5 to 1 ratio for the permanent fill into the wetland. The applicant has proposed no mitigation for the temporal loss of jurisdictional stream channels. In total, the applicant proposes to construct/restore 18,685 linear feet of stream channel and 1.49 acres of wetland which will attain a quality equal to or greater than pre-mining conditions by the end of the five year monitoring period. The applicant proposes to construct a 100 foot buffer zone along the streams reconstructed on site (50 feet on either side of the stream) and to construct a 50 foot buffer around the perimeter of the constructed wetland.  The buffer zones would be planted with a mixture of native woody and herbaceous vegetation and monitored for a period of five years for survivability and the presence of invasive species. The applicant's proposed CMP is open to comment and is subject to change based on the comments received. After review of all the submitted information, the Corps will make a determination of whether or not the mitigation is appropriate, in the event a decision is made to issue a permit.

WATER QUALITY CERTIFICATION (WQC):  An individual Section 401 Water Quality Certification is required for this project. It is the applicant's responsibility to obtain certification from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, Division of Surface Water.

HISTORIC AND CULTURAL RESOURCES: This public notice serves as coordination with the State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) concerning any properties that may be eligible for or listed in the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP), in accordance with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act. The Corps does not have sufficient information to determine if the proposed project would affect any properties that may be eligible for or listed in the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). If the SHPO has information regarding any potential effects to listed or eligible properties that would be attributable to the Corps' proposed permitting action, it is requested the SHPO provide any information they may have to the Corps by the close of the public comment period.

ENDANGERED/THREATENED SPECIES REVIEW: This public notice serves as coordination with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) concerning threatened or endangered species, pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act of 1972 (as amended). The proposed project lies within the known or historic range of the endangered Indiana bat (Myotis sodalis) and the proposed endangered northern long-eared bat (Myotis septentrionalis). The Corps does not have sufficient information to determine if the proposed project would affect the Indiana bat, the northern long-eared bat or other federally listed species. If the USFWS has additional information and believes any potential effects to federally listed species would be attributable to the Corps' proposed permitting action, it is requested the Service provide any information they may have by close of the public comment period.

 

PUBLIC INTEREST REVIEW AND CUMULATIVE EFFECTS: This application will be reviewed in accordance with 33 CFR 320-332, and other pertinent laws, regulations, and executive orders. Our evaluation will also follow the guidelines published by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency pursuant to Section 404(b)(1) of the CWA. The decision whether to issue a permit will be based on an evaluation of the probable impact, including cumulative impacts of the proposed activity on the public interest. That decision will reflect the national concern for both protection and utilization of important resources. The benefit that reasonably may be expected to accrue from the proposal must be balanced against its reasonably foreseeable detriments. All factors that may be relevant to the proposal will be considered including the cumulative effects thereof; of those are conservation, economics, aesthetics, general environmental concerns, wetlands, historic properties, fish and wildlife values, flood hazards, floodplain values, land use, navigation, shoreline erosion and accretion, recreation, water supply and conservation, water quality, energy needs, safety, food and fiber production, mineral needs, considerations of property ownership and, in general, the needs and welfare of the people. The project lies within the Muskingum River hydrologic unit watershed (Hydrologic Unit Code 05040005). The Corps is assessing the potential cumulative effects that the proposed fill discharges into jurisdictional waters of the U.S. may have on public interest factors when considered with other activities in that watershed.

SOLICITATION OF COMMENTS: The Corps is soliciting comments from the public; Federal, State, and local agencies and officials; Indian Tribes; and other interested parties in order to consider and evaluate the impacts of this proposed activity. Interested parties are invited to state any objections they may have to the proposed work. For accuracy and completeness of the administrative record, all data in support of or in opposition to the proposed work should be submitted in writing setting forth sufficient detail to furnish a clear understanding of the reasons for support or opposition. Any person who has an interest that may be adversely affected by the issuance of a permit may request a public hearing. The request must be submitted in writing to the District Engineer on or before the expiration date of this notice and must clearly set forth the interest which may be adversely affected and the manner in which the interest may be adversely affected by the activity. Any comments received will be considered by the Corps to determine whether to issue, modify, condition or deny a permit for this proposal. To make this decision, comments are used to assess impacts on endangered species, historic properties, water quality, general environmental effects, and the other public interest factors listed above. Comments are used in the preparation of an Environmental Assessment and/or an Environmental Impact Statement pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act. Comments are also used to determine the need for a public hearing and to determine the overall public interest of the proposed activity. Written statements on these factors received in this office on or before the expiration date of this Public Notice will become a part of the record and will be considered in the final determination. A permit will be granted unless its issuance is found to be contrary to the public interest.

 

CLOSE OF COMMENT PERIOD: All comments pertaining to this Public Notice must reach this office on or before the close of the comment period listed on page one of this Public Notice. If no comments are received by that date, it will be considered that there are no objections. Comments and requests for additional information should be submitted to

U. S. Army Corps of Engineers

ATTN: CELRH-RD-E; Public Notice No. LRH-2013-385-UT Salt Fork

4969 Dillon Dam Road

Zanesville, Ohio 43701

 

Please note that names and addresses of those who submit comments in response to this public notice become part of our administrative record and, as such, are available to the public under provisions of the Freedom of Information Act. Thank you for your interest in our nation's water resources. If you have any questions concerning this public notice, please call Rebecca Black of the Energy Resource Branch, at 740-454-2225, extension 7.