CARROLLTON, Ohio — A group of 50 Carrollton residents are voicing their concerns over what will become of their water supplies if Rosebud Mining Company gets to mine 9,407 acres in the areas of Penny and Scio roads in Carroll County.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources held an information session and informal conference July 24 in Carrollton on the mining company’s permit.
The permit, filed in 2009, remains under review by the ODNR’s Division of Mineral Resources Management. A decision on the permit is expected to be released in early 2014.
Rosebud Mining Company has submitted a mining and reclamation application to underground mine the Middle Kittanning coal by the room and pillar mining method and to surface mine another 67 acres.
The mine will be located in Lee, Union and Center townships. The area will include haul roads; drainage control, including sediment ponds and diversion ditches; treatment ponds; topsoil farmland stockpiles; blasting to develop underground mine entries; an air shaft; mine structures such a conveyor belts; coal storage areas and buffer zones.
Room and pillar
The room and pillar method is where the mine is underground and permanent 20-by-40 foot pillars are erected underground at regular intervals. The pillars are designed to support the ground above and prevent subsidence.
The life expectancy of pillars ranges from 50-100 years, according to an ODNR spokesman. However, ODNR officials did point out that it is hard to predict if and when subsidence will occur.
The one major concern voiced by most of the group’s members was water supplies. Some residents said they have wells and others are concerned about their spring developments.
An ODNR hydrogeologist said the application already addresses a handful of wells that it expects to impact with the mining. According to the official, Rosebud Mining Company has submitted plans to replace the water supply as the drilling progresses toward those properties.
However, the application filed does not address how mining might affect the lower aquifers below the proposed mining.
Residents also voiced concerns about how the Utica shale drilling factors into the mining process.
The ODNR told the residents that Rosebud Mining Company has proposed leaving a 150-foot area around well pads, or the equivalent of two acres of coal left in place.
If Chesapeake Exploration (they have the most land leased in the 9,000-acre proposed mine area) would choose to do more drilling in the area, they would be responsible for drilling through the pillars.
Those statements didn’t ease the fears of those in the audience. One resident asked that a moratorium be placed or mining applications be suspended until the legislature and science figure out the dangers associated with a combination of coal mining and shale gas drilling.
The ODNR officials responded to the concerns by saying that as more studies are completed and the results are discovered then the ODNR rules for both mining and drilling will change as necessary.
Who is responsible?
Residents also said they were concerned about determining liability or responsibility — drillers or miners — if something does happen to the water supply.
ODNR officials said it is not difficult to determine which party is responsible for damage, because each industry uses different chemicals, which makes it easy to determine if drilling or mining is the culprit for water quality products.
It is harder, however, to quantify who may be responsible for quantity problems.
The residents were encouraged to allow water testers on to their property so that water condition and quantity (if possible depending on water source) can be documented before the mining begins. That way if something does happen, there is proof of what the water supply was like before the mining or drilling.
Residents are encouraged to contact the ODNR once the permit is issued and drilling begins, if they notice any difference in their water supplies so that an investigation can begin immediately.