Thursday, September 10, 2009

River dredge material to reclaim mine land in PA

Transport of river dredge to reclaim mine land resumes
By KENT JACKSON (Staff Writer)
Published: September 10, 2009

Trains have resumed transporting material dredged from the Delaware River to mine land in Hazleton that a developer is reclaiming.

The developer, Hazleton Creek Properties, is removing 200,000 cubic yards of dredged material that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers stored along the Delaware at Fort Mifflin in Philadelphia.

Corps spokesman Steve Rochette said Hazleton Creek is shipping the material through options on a contract from 2006.

The original contract paid the company $21 million for withdrawing 500,000 cubic yards, which were delivered to Hazleton by truck and train through 2007.

Rochette didn't know the payment that Hazleton Creek will receive for shipping the next 200,000 cubic yards, which he said could go to Hazleton or to other approved sites.

So far this year, about 100,000 cubic yards have left Fort Mifflin on weekly trains, he said.

The Corps also plans to remove another 65,000 cubic yards this fall before closing the contract with Hazleton Creek, Rochette said.

While Hazleton Creek might remove 765,000 cubic yards of dredged material through its contract with the Corps, the company estimates reclaiming the land in Hazleton will require 10 million cubic yards.

Hazleton Creek also imported brick, block, stone and other materials sorted from demolition sites to Hazleton. The material helped build roads and a railroad line at the site.

The site includes pits and former landfills on 277 acres bounded by routes 309, 93 and 924. Mayor Lou Barletta said the land could house an amphitheater, stores, restaurants and motels when he enlisted Hazleton Creek as a developer.

Hazleton Creek paid the city about $750,000 in royalties based on the amount of dredged material delivered to the site in 2006 and 2007.

Then last year, Hazleton Creek agreed to purchase the land for $3 million, payable in yearly installments of $600,000 to the Hazleton City Authority. The authority keeps the deed until the payments are complete.

Acting City Administrator Mary Ellen Lieb said Hazleton officials knew that shipments of dredged materials resumed.

The state Department of Environmental Protection also received advance notice of shipments, spokesman Mark Carmon said. Hazleton Creek must disclose the source of materials before shipping them and also must test the materials, according to state requirements.

Hazleton Creek also has the state's permission to mix dredged material with fly ash and dust from cement or lime kilns.

To determine whether the mixture could resist water seeping through or around it, the department conducted tests at Bark Camp in Clearfield County. After the tests, the department issued a general permit allowing the mixture's use as mine fill at approved sites.

Carmon said he isn't aware that any mixing has occurred at the Hazleton site yet.

Because the mixture hadn't undergone long-term testing and because dredged material and fly ash can contain metals and other hazards, two citizens groups challenged Hazleton Creek's plans.

In a settlement approved by the state Environmental Hearing Board, Hazleton Creek was allowed to continue reclaiming land but had to install more monitoring wells.

Carmon said the new wells were installed, and Hazleton Creek supplies test results of the well water to the department's mining office in Pottsville.


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