The state Department of Environmental Protection is moving ahead with a plan to stop acid mine water from flowing into Ten Mile Creek.
State Rep. Pam Snyder, D-Jefferson, said she spoke to acting DEP Secretary Christopher Abruzzo Monday and was assured the department is moving forward to fix the treatment facility connected to the abandoned Clyde Mine that was overflowing into the creek in East Bethlehem Township.
The facility will be repaired in three weeks, although it could take up to two months before the mine’s water level stabilizes and stops pouring into the creek, the DEP secretary told Snyder. She sent a letter April 12 to DEP advising it of the problem after seeing orange water spilling across Route 88.
“My major concern is that it gets fixed and cleaned up as quickly as possible so it doesn’t have a negative impact on the boating season, the businesses down there and the fish population,” Snyder said. “A lot of businesses depend on boating season through the summer.”
DEP spokesman John Poister said a clogged borehole in the treatment facility collapsed more than a year ago and stopped it from operating properly. There wasn’t a problem with overflow from the mine until the area experienced a large amount of snow and rain in the winter and spring, he said. DEP has since been investigating how to remove the sludge from the borehole at the facility.
“You won’t see an immediate improvement, but there will be an improvement once we get this going,” Poister said. “Gradually, it will go away. It was just a case where we had a couple of things conspiring for this problem to happen.”
The fix is welcome news for Snyder, who said she was helping to stock trout in the stream last week. The DEP has told her the acid mine drainage into the creek has been “minimal,” although she has heard reports of fish kills in the stream.
Abandoned coal mines often fill with water that becomes contaminated and turns orange from its interaction with high levels of iron. The water then seeps into local waterways and the acidity can kill fish and other aquatic wildlife sensitive to pH levels.
“I hope they stay on a very aggressive schedule and hope it gets resolved as quickly as it possibly can,” Snyder said. “I just want to make sure this issue goes away for the people who live along that creek and in that area.”
According to DEP officials, the department took responsibility for the treatment and mitigation of the mine water after LTV Steel went into bankruptcy in 2000. A trust was established through the Clean Streams Foundation to fund operations at LTV sites and treat acid mine drainage coming from the Clyde Mine.