Ohio tackles mine land problems

MACKSBURG, Ohio – Governor Bob Taft announced July 12 that the state is undertaking a record $10 million in 38 new abandoned mine land projects this year to address environmental and public safety issues in 19 Ohio counties.

Taft made the announcement during a tour of an reclamation site.

“Pollution from long-abandoned underground and surface mines is the single most pressing water quality issue in the region, while erosion and sedimentation, if unchecked, greatly increase the threat of flooding,” Taft said.

The governor visited the “Freedom 1″ reclamation project site on the Washington/Noble county line with Sam Speck, director of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

Taft praised the state and federal agencies responsible for overseeing this work and thanked the many local and regional partners who assist in the effort. He also recognized the commitment of Ohio’s present-day mine operators, who work to meet strict state and federal regulations.

Of the 38 new reclamation projects to begin this summer or ready to be placed for bid, the largest are a $1.4 million clean-up at the Rehoboth III coal refuse pile in Perry County and a $1 million surface mine restoration at the Nibert Road AML site in Gallia County.

Surface mine reclamation and mine drainage improvements on three sites in Gallia and Meigs counties are expected to cost another $650,000.

Administered by the ODNR Division of Mineral Resources Management, Ohio’s abandoned mine reclamation program is funded by the U.S. Department of the Interior and state grants, as well as bond monies forfeited by former mine operators.

The program reclaims areas disturbed by mining operations, primarily coal mining operations, that were not restored in accordance with today’s stringent reclamation requirements. Most predate those requirements.

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