The AMR Conference Planning Committee is working on developing a great conference program! Here is a list of presentations we have confirmed in no particular order.
“Early Discoveries and Development of Passive Treatment Systems”, Jeff Skousen, Bob Kleinmann, Bob Hedin, Bob Nairn, Tom Wildeman, and Jim Gusek
Passive treatment systems have been promoted as a means of treating mine drainage on abandoned mine sites for decades. This presentation reviews the beginnings, early history (first 20 years) and development of the passive treatment of mine water when it was viewed as a possible way to treat small flows of circumneutral and mildly acidic mine coal mine water. Subsequently, more knowledge and experience along with better designs made it applicable for their use for larger flows and more contaminated mine water including water from metal mines. Since then the approach has been adapted and used successfully to treat an incredible range of mine water quality and quantities, far beyond what was initially considered by those who pioneered research and application of this treatment science. A brief history will include the five early types of systems and their development: aerobic wetlands, anaerobic wetlands, vertical flow wetlands, anoxic limestone drains, and open limestone channels.
”Restorative Job Opportunities in Natural Infrastructure”, Amanda Woodrum, Reimagine Appalachia
Reclaiming and repairing damaged lands can be a great opportunity to offer healing work to returning citizens and folks caught up in the criminal justice system. With the right planning and partnerships, utilizing best practices and available federal resources, we can maximize the community benefits from abandoned mineland and other restorative natural infrastructure investments, while also doing the hard work of tackling some of the longer-term impacts of the opioid crisis in Appalachia.
“Updates on AML/AMD Grant Program”, Jon Smoyer, PA DEP, BAMR
This presentation will provide the basic framework, requirements, and a review of the application process for the Abandoned Mine Land(AML)/Acid Mine Drainage (AMD) sub-award program that was implemented as the result of the passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), also known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL). The IIJA/BIL is has increased the amount of AML funding to Pennsylvania to approximately $298 million/year. The IIJA/BIL also allows for the expenditure of federal funds to address stand-alone Priority 3 problems. Monies are allocated for both land reclamation and AMD abatement and/or AMD treatment on a frequent basis in order to maximize and streamline reclamation of the problems left from abandoned coal mining in Pennsylvania. The Subaward program allows eligible entities and partners to greatly participate in the reclamation and AMD impacted stream restoration efforts in Pennsylvania. A review of the approval process and “common mistakes” from applications that were received from the first three application rounds will be provided.
“Rehabilitation of 23 year old Vertical Flow Pond and Wetland System used to treat AMD”, John Klamut, PE, CFM, MS, GAI Consultants, Inc.
There are numerous abandoned mine drainage (AMD) passive treatment systems throughout Pennsylvania which are aging and in need of maintenance. This presentation will give a technical overview of the original design and recent maintenance done to rehabilitate a vertical flow pond (VFP) and polishing wetland used to treat AMD seepage at a site in Pennsylvania. As part of the project the VFP compost and limestone media were replaced and the wetland soils were sampled to evaluate their metal content. After an evaluation and alternatives analysis was completed, the wetland soils and plants were replaced. As part of the project a manganese removal rock drain was constructed near the wetland outfall.
”Future Options for OM&R of AMD Treatment Systems”, Joe Pizarchik, PIZARCHIK ADVANCEMENTS
Acid mine drainage that flows from abandoned coal mines is perpetual. Federal, state, philanthropic, private and NGO resources have been used to build more than 340 AMD treatment facilities in Pennsylvania. There is no dedicated funding to operate, maintain and rehabilitate these AMD treatment systems to preserve the clean water and the environmental and economic benefits which resulted from the treatment of the AMD. The presentation will summarize available options that can be developed under existing law in order to provide dedicated, long term funding mechanisms for AMD treatment facilities.
“Internal Controls & Red Flags for Federal Funds”, Kate Bell and Rene Olivas, Department of Interior, Office of Investigations
We will provide information regarding who the Department of the Interior, Office of Inspector General is and our oversight mission of Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation funds. We will also discuss promising practices for safeguarding and reducing the risk of fraud for federal funds through internal controls. Additionally, we will provide insight into red flags and fraud schemes that could happen with Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation funds.
“Review Of A Feasibility Study For A Revegetation Program; Section 40802 of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law”, Thomas D. Shope, USDOI, Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement
Congress, through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, also known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) (Pub. L. No. 117-58), directed the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE) to investigate the feasibility of revegetating reclaimed mine sites on a programmatic scale. In the study presented to Congress in November of 2022, OSMRE concluded that, in partnership with States, Tribes, and NGOs, implementing a program to revegetate reclaimed mine sites is technically and administratively feasible. OSMRE also identified types of sites that are potentially suitable for revegetation. The study identified that a revegetation program could produce environmental, economic, and community benefits. Program benefits would include the restoration of native habitats, the creation of employment opportunities related to revegetation work, and the potential development of outdoor recreational opportunities on revegetated mine sites. Mr. Shope will review this study with attendees.
“Tioga River Watershed Restoration / Consumptive Use Mitigation Through an Active Mine Drainage Treatment Plant Project”, Andrew King, Environmental Scientist, Susquehanna River Basin Commission, Thomas Clark, Abandoned Mine Program Project Development Manager, Kleinfelder
The Tioga River Watershed, a major tributary to the Upper Susquehanna River Basin, has been impacted significantly by Northern Bituminous Coal Field abandoned mine drainage stemming from legacy coal mining that began in the mid-1800s. These impacts, centered around the Borough of Blossburg and the village of Morris Run in Tioga County, Pennsylvania, has rendered over 20-miles of the Tioga River and several tributaries as fishless due to acidity, iron, and aluminum loading. This impact mainly emanates from five deep mine discharges that are relatively close to one another, which will allow for their conveyance to a centralized active plant that will treat all five flows in total. Strategic placement of the treated flow into two impacted tributaries will also allow for the restoration of additional stream mileage that has cold water fishery potential. In addition, water quality restoration of the Tioga River will also lead to the similar restoration of the Tioga Lake portion of the United States Army Corp of Engineers Tioga-Hammond Dam Complex. Water quality restoration of Tioga Lake could lead to a significant consumptive use mitigation / low-flow augmentation project that would safeguard adequate water quality /quantity for downstream industrial, commercial, and agricultural water users.
“High-volume rain events disproportionately increase erosion of waste material from an abandoned coal mine dump”, Nathaniel Shaffer, Washington & Jefferson College
The process of mining coal results in large quantities of waste material that are typically dumped elsewhere. The waste material is very acidic, has high heavy metal content, and is often friable and unstable, leading to substantial erosion at steeply sloped sites, often adjacent to stream ecosystems in Pennsylvania. Through one summer, we investigated erosion at one of these many abandoned coal mine waste sites in southwestern Pennsylvania. Our primary focus was quantifying erosion of waste material from the steep slope within a single 400-m2 microwatershed into the first-order stream at the base of the slope. We used erosion pins to show significant (p<0.05) difference in material loss on the upper slope compared to accretion on the lower slope. After every major rainfall event, eroded materials were collected in an at-grade submerged bucket system and then physically and chemically characterized. Up to 1” rain events, very little material was collected; water infiltration rates at the top of the pile were high yet variable (0.4 – 16 gal / hr) and weakly correlated with bulk density (r=0.19). However, above 1” rain events, up to 70 pounds of material were collected; these materials had a pH of 3.47 and contained heavy metals. Our results suggest that large-volume rain events, or even substantial snowmelt, lead to more erosion and therefore deposition of waste material into streams. With expected increases in frequency of heavy rain events, stabilization and mitigation of impacts from abandoned mine waste piles becomes even more important to reduce impacts to stream water quality and habitat.
“Advanced Carbon Products made from Coal”, Rudolph Olson III, CONSOL Innovations LLC
Coal is increasingly being utilized as a carbon ore to produce new carbon-based products in applications such as building products, energy storage, defense, and aerospace. Coal can be utilized as a filler in plastic composites, transformed to carbon foam for use as tooling for carbon fiber composite manufacture or high temperature insulation, or converted to materials that might be used for electrodes in batteries. The coal precursor used in the manufacture of these products may also include waste coal fines. The processing, microstructure, properties and performance of these products will be discussed.
“Active treatment options for acid mine drainage”, Robert Loken, Envirogen Technologies, Inc.
The treatment of acid mine drainage via active treatment solutions is dependent on the flow rates of the drainage, the chemistry, and the projected life cycle cost for a given site. The various treatment options have their advantages and disadvantages depending primarily on the flow rates and feed water chemistry. There are a few new and improved technologies that may provide better treatment solutions with lower operating costs versus traditional lime softening. We will review the various treatment options versus the feed water chemistry, the projected capital costs, and the projected operating costs for each that may be used as guidelines for use in evaluation for treating acid mine or acid rock drainage.
“Coal to Solar: Redevelopment of Mine Lands, Site Planning & Engineering Considerations”, Sami Pretzel, Kleinfelder, Inc.
Every mine site has an intended post-mining land use. While the challenges of redeveloping mine sites are unique, proper screening, site planning, investigative, and engineering are critical to successful collaborative development of a mine site for solar power generation. We will discuss considerations to minimize risk to the development of a site, and general applications that can be incorporated into the initial investigations and design for a reclaimed or abandoned coal mine.
“AMDTreat 6.0 Overview”, Jeffrey Ream, OSMRE
AMDTreat was originally developed in the early 2000’s, and the programming language it was written with is no longer supported by Microsoft Windows. The new version of AMDTreat is being coded in C#, which will result in a greater likelihood of continued support by Microsoft. New treatment technologies and analytical tools are being included to improve the accuracy of cost estimates produced with the software.
Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP), West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP), and the US Geological Service (USGS) have worked collaboratively with OSM on the re-write effort, and the resulting program will provide a valuable tool in ensuring financial security for long term treatment of mine drainage.
The presentation will give a background, history, and purpose of the original AMDTreat program, discussion of why it needed to be upgraded, description of the tasks and processes followed by the AMDTreat Team to begin the process, and a virtual demonstration of the beta version of the program.
“From Water to Sediment: Hidden Phosphorus in Streams Impacted by Mine Drainage and Wastewater”, Peter M. Smyntek*, Carter Cavalier, John Pawlak, and Megan Marling, St Vincent College
Wastewater treatment plants discharge large quantities of phosphorus into streams, which can control the productivity of these aquatic ecosystems. Abandoned mine drainage (AMD), which co-occurs with wastewater inputs in many coal-mining regions, greatly affects phosphorus concentrations. Iron and aluminum oxide particles from AMD bind and rapidly remove phosphorus from the water column to the sediment. This creates a hidden load of sediment-bound phosphorus that can be transported downstream during high streamflow events. This phosphorus can be released back into the water and impact downstream aquatic systems as environmental conditions change. Water and sediment chemistry from several streams in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania with varying inputs of phosphorus from wastewater and differing impacts from AMD were evaluated to assess phosphorus loading and transport. Sediment phosphorus concentrations decreased rapidly with distance downstream of wastewater inputs. In addition, sediment phosphorus concentrations increased over time during dry periods. This indicates phosphorus loads to AMD-impacted streams are localized during drier conditions, likely due to the high adsorption capacity of iron oxide particles that are continually being replenished by the AMD inputs. If AMD remediation continues, these high phosphorus loads may move from the sediments to the water column and impact stream water quality.
“Making BIL Better Through an AML/AMD Research Center”, Bob Hedin, Hedin Environmental
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law has committed 15 years of unprecedented funding for AML/AMD problems. Pennsylvania is scheduled to receive $250 million in 2023, a 5X increase over recent AML/AMD funding, and $3.5 billion over the lifetime of the program. The authorization does not support research and development. Recognizing this shortcoming, a proposal was developed and submitted to the National Science Foundation’s Regional Innovation Engines Program for a Type I planning grant. The NSF Engines program will establish new research centers that will support innovative research in under-represented regions of the US. The proposal was submitted by a group including personnel from Carnegie Mellon University, University of Pittsburgh, Penn State University, St Francis University, Foundation for PA Watersheds, Pizarchik Advancements, and Hedin Environmental. The proposal received good reviews but was not funded. The presentation will use elements of the NSF proposal to argue that reclamation and AMD treatment technologies could benefit from recent advances in treatment technologies, microbial ecology, autonomous equipment operations, remote and drone-based reconnaissance activities. An AML/AMD research center should be developed in Pennsylvania that would leverage the BIL expenditures and develop a local workforce that is experienced with the latest technological advances. The presentation will update the audience on efforts to fund the project through alternative means.
“Watershed Cooperative Agreement and the Passive Treatment Protection Program”, Robbie Fulton, OSMRE
A summary of OSM’s Watershed Cooperative Agreement Program to include what is available from the program, what is eligible, and how to apply. Also an introduction to a new program under development, the Passive Treatment Protection Program. This program will fund the maintenance of passive treatment systems that have historically been funded by the Watershed Cooperative Agreement Program.
“Abandoned Coal Mine Mitigation in Artesian Conditions”, Joshua Zimmermann, Brierley Associates
As an extension of an AML Pilot Program conducted during the Summer of 2019, there was a question as to whether or not void fill grouting as a means of subsidence mitigation was feasible in an area known to exhibit high artesian head pressures within abandoned coal mine workings. This pilot program provided the foundation and methodology to create a design approach to alleviate any potential risks from the mitigation program to the surrounding densely populated overlying sub-division. These potential risks associated with the injection and pressurizing high mobility grout included; displacement of groundwater into building foundations, inducing structural collapse of the mine, infrastructure sub-grade failure through over saturation, environmental considerations, and ground surface movement. After extensive analysis of this pilot study, a specially designed mitigation program was established for mitigating the mine subjacent to a sub-development and took place during the Summer of 2021. This presentation covers surface and subsurface controls that were used to handle high artesian head pressures while mitigating the underground workings within this sub-division.
“The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act AML Program”, Tom Clarke, Interstate Mining Compact Commission
The presentation will summarize issues arising in the implementation of the IIJA AML Program.
Tom Clarke has served as Executive Director of the Interstate Mining Compact Commission (IMCC) since 2018. IMCC is an interstate governmental organization of 26 states whose governors serve as its Commissioners. It serves as a liaison for state mining regulators and abandoned mine lands (AML) programs with Congress and various federal agencies, including the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE), Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) and Bureau of Land Management (BLM). IMCC has led state efforts for the implementation of the coal AML Program under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
“Evaluating the Effectiveness of Various Aggregate Cleaning Methods”, Neil Wolfe and Olivia Weaver, Hedin Environmental
Limestone Aggregate is commonly used in passive mine water treatment systems to promote alkalinity generation and metal removal. In cases where solids accumulate in the aggregate, over time, the beds commonly lose effectiveness due to decreased bed permeability and aggregate reactivity. While these beds can be rehabilitated by replacing the aggregate, a more cost-effective approach is micing and cleaning the stone. A variety of methods for mixing and cleaning aggregate in these systems are being utilized in Pennsylvania. This project reviews various aggregate cleaning methods and evaluates their impact on the physical and chemical characteristics of the treatment units. The investigation includes characterization of a bed’s alkalinity generation, porosity, and retention time before and after a cleaning event. The presentation will describe the methods being used to characterize the limestone beds, the various cleaning methods being studied, and preliminary results.
“Environmental Justice in Pennsylvania’s Mining Communities”, Presenter TBD, PA DEP
This session will provide an overview of the environmental justice movement nationally and in Pennsylvania, with a focus on how it relates to Pennsylvania’s historic mining heritage and contemporary mining practice. Environmental justice embodies the principle that communities and populations should not be disproportionally exposed to adverse environmental impacts. Historically, Pennsylvanians facing existing environmental justice issues have been forced to bear a disproportionate share of adverse environmental impacts. It is our duty to ensure that all Pennsylvanians, especially those who have typically been disenfranchised, are meaningfully involved in the decisions that affect their environment and that all communities are not unjustly and/or disproportionally burdened with adverse environmental impacts.
Request for Presentations
The AMR Conference Planning Committee is requesting proposals for presentations. We encourage a wide range of topic submissions, including but not limited to:
- New abandoned mine drainage (AMD) treatment system technologies, tools, and products
- Construction case studies and lessons learned
- Land remediation, reforestation, and reuse
- Water quality monitoring
- Operations, maintenance, and rehabilitation of treatment systems
- Non-profit organization capacity issues
- Community involvement, special events, education, and outreach
- Coal mining history and heritage preservation
- Mapping, drones, equipment, and other helpful new technologies
- Legislative updates and concerns at all levels of government
- Economic redevelopment, health and safety, and quality of life topics
- Climate change, energy, and AMD
In the past, we have had such varied topics as the history of baseball in coal patch towns, prevention of Lyme disease, preserving collieries, computer software designed technologies, reauthorization of the Abandoned Mine Land (AML) Fund, economic benefits of reclamation, abandoned mine land issues in Germany and Bolivia, the establishment and support of non-profit organizations, and everything in between. If your topic can be related to what our community does, we would love to consider it for the conference!
If you are interested in making a presentation, please submit an abstract for review. Submissions should be no longer than one page in length and include the presenter’s name, title, and organization. Please also include a 1-paragraph bio for the presenter. Submissions and questions should be emailed to Anne Daymut at firstname.lastname@example.org.