Blacksville 2 Mine

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Blacksville Number 2 Mine is an underground operation in Monongalia County, West Virginia, owned by CONSOL Energy.

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History

Opened in 1970 along the Pittsburgh No 8 coal seam

Mine Data

  • MSHA ID: 4601968
  • Operator: Consolidation Coal Company
  • Controller: CONSOL Energy
  • Union: UMWA
  • County: Monongalia
  • State: WV
  • Latitude: 39.71
  • Longitude: -80.29
  • 2007 Production (short tons): 5,150,114
  • Coal Type: Bituminous
  • Mining Method: Underground
  • Mine Status: Active
  • Average No. of Employees: 512

Water pollution at Blacksville Mine

In September 2010, several thousand fish washed up along the banks of Dunkard Creek in Monongalia County, West Virginia: "Environmental officials in Pennsylvania and at the federal Environmental Protection Agency say mining discharges from Consol Energy’s Blacksville 2 Mine created the conditions for the algae to bloom."[1]

2011: Consol to pay over $200 million in Clean Water violations at six operations

On March 14, 2011, CONSOL Energy announced it will spend $200 million on a treatment system for wastewater from three West Virginia coal mines, and pay the state and federal governments a total of $6 million to settle hundreds of alleged violations of the Clean Water Act. The federal fines, which will be split between the EPA and the state, totaled $5.5 million. Consol also agreed to pay the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources $500,000 for the damage to Dunkard Creek, a Monongahela River tributary that runs for 43 miles along the Pennsylvania-West Virginia border.[2]

Though it denies its operations were responsible for the fish kill, Consol stopped discharging wastewater from its Blacksville 2 Mine after a September 2009 bloom of toxic golden algae killed countless fish, mussels, salamanders and other aquatic life. Investigators concluded that pollutants called total dissolved solids created conditions that helped that algae bloom flourish, choking off oxygen to the aquatic creatures. Although high levels of TDS have not been labeled a threat to human health, they can affect the taste and smell and drinking water.[2]

EPA Region 3 Administrator Shawn Garvin said Consol's new network of pipelines and the reverse osmosis treatment plant it is building near Mannington will keep nearly 100 million pounds of TDS, including salts, out of the watershed each year. The system will treat water from the Blacksville 2 Mine, Loveridge 22 Mine and Robinson Run 95 Mine, and improve the overall health of rivers and streams. Consol's treatment plant must be online by May 2013 under the agreement. When finished, the plant should be able to treat 3,500 gallons of mine water per minute, eliminating an anticipated 95 percent of the pollutants. Consol is also planning to build a similar $100 million treatment facility for its Buchanan Mine 1 in Virginia.[2]

The settlement covers alleged violations at six Consol operations over the past four years. The government cited chronic problems with chloride discharges into the Monongahela watershed from the Blacksville, Loveridge, Robinson Run and Four States mines, and into the Ohio River from the Shoemaker and Windsor mines.[2]

Pennsylvania sues Consol over discharges

On September 7, 2011, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission filed a complaint against Consol Energy over discharges from two coal mines in West Virginia - Blacksville 2 Mine and Loveridge 22 Mine - saying the discharges killed thousands of fish, mussels, salamanders, and other wildlife along a 30-mile stretch of the tributary, Dunkard Creek, in 2009. The commission is seeking compensatory damages for lost aquatic life and angling opportunities as well as punitive damages to deter future pollution.

Dead fish began surfacing on Sept. 8, 2009, after illegally high levels of total dissolved solids and chlorides turned Dunkard Creek brackish and fostered a toxic golden algae bloom that is more common to southern coastal waters. About 42,997 fish representing 40 species, from black bass to muskellunge, were killed along with 15,382 freshwater mussels, including the rare snuffbox variety, and 6,447 mudpuppies, the complaint states. People who lived along the creek recounted watching fish bleed to death from their gills and mussel shells pop open. Because so many adult fish were killed, it will take years for aquatic populations to recover, according to the claim.

In March 2011, the federal Environmental Protection Agency and the state of West Virginia reached a $5.5 million settlement with Consol that covered violations at six of the company’s mines, including those relating to the fish kill in Dunkard Creek. Although most of the damage occurred in Pennsylvania’s portion of Dunkard, the state was not party to the federal suit because Consol’s discharge permits were issued in West Virginia.[3]

Anti-Obama commercial

In the run-up to the 2008 presidential election, Consol Energy provided the National Rifle Association access to its Blacksville 2 Mine in West Virginia to film a television advertisement with an anti-Barack Obama message.[4] The National Rifle Association intended to ask miners the question "How do you feel about having your Second Amendment rights taken away if Obama becomes president?" Word spread among pro-Obama miners who contacted their union, the United Mine Workers of America, resulting in 440 miners taking the day off in a contract-sanctioned protest, and halted production at CONSOL's Blacksville 2 coal mine.[5]d."

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References

  1. Ben Adducchio, "Dunkard Creek fish kill topic at Monongahela River Summit", West Virginia News Cast.org, April 20, 2010.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 "Consol to pay $6M settlement in W.Va. water case" The Times Leader. March 14, 2011.
  3. Deborah Weisberg, "Pennsylvania Sues Over Coal-Mine Discharges" NY Times, Sep. 8, 2011.
  4. Huber, Tim (2008-09-22). "UMW plans stoppage over NRA filming", USA Today. Retrieved on 2010-04-30. 
  5. Greenhouse, Steven (2008-10-02). "Mine Workers Protest Anti-Obama Ad", The New York Times. Retrieved on 2010-04-30. 

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