Evaluation of Mining Permits Resulting in Acid Mine Drainage in Pennsylvania 1987 - 1996: A Post Mortem Study

Smith, Michael W. ; Brady, Keith B. C. ; Perry, Eric F. ; Tarantino, Joseph M.
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Pages: 7
Publication Date: Jan 1, 2000
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection in 1998 reviewed its permitting process to determine how effective its program has been in preventing pollution and to identify here it could be improved. Of the 1,699 bituminous mine permits issued from 1987 to 1 996, 50 were identified to have current or past postmining discharges with water quality problems. The remaining 1,649 sites had no known current or past postmining discharges problems. The 50 sites were selected for further review. On closer examination, 33 of these permits no longer had water quality problems or the problem had not actually resulted from the permitted mining activity. Only 17 permits, or one percent of the total permits issued, were found to have caused long-term postmining discharges serious enough to require treatment and prevent bond release. Analysis of these 17 sites using current knowledge of mine drainage prediction, revealed that the most common cause of error was inadequate information in the permit application. Errors in interpretation of the application data and in implementing the permit were less common. A very small percentage of all permits issued resulted in postmining discharges for no clearly identifiable reason. Trends over the 10-year study period indicated a decreasing incidence of permits resulting in postmining discharges. Further, with the exception of the first few years of data, most of the postmining discharges were of mildly acidic or alkaline quality and amenable to passive treatment.
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