DEP criticized after approving strip mine next to Kanawha State - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

DEP criticized after approving strip mine next to Kanawha State Forest

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KANAWHA COUNTY, WV - The Kanawha State Forest is about to get a new neighbor. The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection has approved a permit for Keystone Industries for a strip mine right next to the forest.

Many who live near the area and visit are extremely upset and nervous.

“It's just too pretty of a place to you know, get up on the mountain you look across and all you see in a bare mountain,” said Terry Beard of Charleston.

A coal miner for 29 years, Beard recently traded the coal fields for the outdoors. He said this mine is a little too close for comfort.

“I think it's going to affect the streams. If you know they get so close to the boundary because they got a lot of run-off on the strip job,” said Beard.

Dayton Malone, 12, comes to the forest from St. Albans to fish. He and his mom have talked about the strip mine and he said he is also worried.

“Pollution, the water if there’s too much of it, it could kill all of the fish,” he said.

The mine will operate on 414 acres of land right across from the forest's shooting range.

It's a project that has been years in the making. The permit was first submitted in 2009 and the DEP has been working on it since. Making sure the mine doesn't affect the forest.

The permit requires buffer zones between the mine and the forest, eliminates any plans to cover up streams, and requires the ridge facing the forest to be mined last.

The coal company also promises to not use forest roads to haul equipment or coal.

“They spent a hundred thousand dollars or a million dollars on these trails over here to keep them pressed to ride on. I don't want them ruined,” said Beard.

The Kanawha Forest Coalition is a group formed to protect the forest from mining and other potentially harmful actions. The group is looking into taking legal action to stop the permit.

"I have small children and I can tell you that people don't want to stay and raise their families in a place where the Department of Environmental Protection fails to protect our drinking water from chemical spills and allows coal companies to blast apart our mountains, especially next to state treasures like Kanawha State Forest," said Chad Cordell, one of the group’s leaders.

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - West Virginia officials have issued a permit for a surface mining operation located near Kanawha State Forest.

The state Department of Environmental Protection's Division of Mining and Reclamation issued the permit Thursday to Keystone Industries.

The permit is for a surface mining operation on a nearly 414-acre tract of land.

Officials say the permit that was originally submitted in 2009 has been subject to many changes aimed at minimizing any potential adverse impact to the forest.

Keystone Industries has agreed not to use state forest roads for access, coal hauling or other mining-related activity. The company also will pay the state a compensatory mitigation of 10 cents per ton for coal mined through this permit, which is estimated to total seven million tons.

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