GRAFTON, W. Va. — After hearing concerns from area residents and park visitors about its initial application, a mine owner requesting approval to construct a ventilation shaft near Tygart Lake State Park in Grafton has proposed an alternate location.

The new site proposed by ICG Tygart Valley, LLC for the Leer Mining Complex is farther away from the park boundary — more than 2,600 feet versus just over 300 feet between the original site and the park. It’s also located on the top of a densely forested ridge rather than in a valley, which was proposed to alleviate concerns about the view.

A viewshed assessment submitted with the new request, which was filed with the state DEP as a Significant Incidental Boundary Revision, indicates very little visibility at all as the company plans to construct a berm around the shaft and plant trees to further obscure it from view.

Lighting will be directed downward, will include a diffuser and be utilized only to the extent necessary to provide necessary security and employee safety, according to the IBR.

To address concerns about noise from the shaft, perdominatly created by a large fan, the Arch Coal subsidiary plans to encase the fan’s motor in a cinderblock structure insulated with noise dampening foam. The housing will be covered with additional noise-dampening foam and also includes plans for a fan silencer and an exhaust tube that will direct the fan noise upward.

The exhaust air from the fan will have methane concentrations averaging less than 2 percent, according to the proposal. This ventilation air will also be directed upward and isn’t projected to have any adverse public health or environmental effects.

Most of the construction is expected to be done in the fall and winter when there are fewer visitors to the park and it does not include blasting, nor do the plans include a pond or point source discharge. Instead, surface runoff will be captured by temporary drainage controls and directed away from the lake.

Staff with the DEP’s Division of Mining and Reclamation will review the new IBR and will consider all input received during a public comment period ending 30 days after the final of four advertisements is published.

bubble graphic


bubble graphic


  • 1olewvufan

    West Virginia over the past 25-years has been able to make WV a brand, but it has yet to capitalize on this branding.

    When we hear the term 'whiskey' we automatically think of Tennessee. When we hear the word 'bourbon' we think of Kentucky.

    What WV needs is a way to label the brand. If I was a WV politician I'd be looking for investors to come in and help with this. Perhaps, creating distilleries that produced flavored moonshine drinks. That when people see or hear 'moonshine' they think of WV. Do this with beers, wines, etc. Create a label such as "Home Brew", so when people see this on a can or bottle, WV comes to mind. Bottle and sell "WV Mead".

    Create a State Renaissance Faire / Festival, and make it one of the biggest in the nation, and have it run for a month. Many states have these and some of the biggest ones are in MD, TN, TX, and OH. This will increase tourism.

    Bring in companies that will make products that be used to better our environment, yet have little impact on mountains and rivers.

    WV has to become futuristic in its thinking. The "War on Coal" is done, and WV lost this battle. Now it is time to move on for coal will never be anywhere as big as it once was, and WV will never again be King of Coal.

    I know this, for I was there in 1960, when Pocahontas Coal closed its mines, and then reopened them for a short time before closing them again, and then when they reopened in 1962, they were owned by CONSOL. I remember when my parents were able to buy their company house from the CONSOL. Later, I worked 12-years at a CONSOL mines and for my last 8.5 years with the company, I was the Fireboss (Safety Inspector), and yes, this was a Union Mine.

    I watched the jobs leave McDowell County as mine after mine closed and big coal conglomerates moved out of state, and nothing was done to replace these jobs. By the mid 1980s McDowell County what was one of the richest counties in the state had been reduced to one of the poorest in the nation. People had to relocate to find work. How many people have left WV due to this 50+ year "war on coal'? And during this time little has been done to bring new jobs back into the state.

    Thus, the War on Coal ended years ago, and the miners of WV lost it. It is time for a new direction, and a new slogan!!!

  • 1olewvufan

    A little history on WV coal. Much of WV's coal is bituminous. Bituminous coal has 3 grades of volatility based on methane content: High, Medium, and Low.

    During the hay-days of WV most of the coal being mined had a high volatility. This coal contained had a high sulphur content. In order lower sulphur content coal companies began to mine the coal closer to the surface - Strip Mining. Companies came in stripped the coal and ruined the landscape, and did nothing to restore the land. Then came the Buffalo Creek disaster, and soon after another incident such as this took place in Pageton, WV.

    Med-Vault (coal with a lower methane and sulphur content) which was found closer to the surface was being mined. CONSOL and US Steel, then pulled out of McDowell County. With the big coal operators gone, McDowell County fell on hard-times and has yet to recover. The last hospital in McDowell County is now a federal prison. Instead of 5 high schools in the county there is now only 2.

    Back in the hay-day, Pocahontas Coal Company along with U.S. Steel were big. CONSOL purchased Pocahontas Coal in 1962.

    The war on coal (if you will began) over 50-years ago. It began very slow. Slowly laws were passed to take power away from communities that were ran and operated by the coal companies. While improving the lives and living conditions of mines, coal companies began to find other ways to control miners and their families. The companies no longer could pay in script. Coal Companies could no longer own the homes the miners lived in. The police and Justice of the Peace were no long employees of coal companies. The lives of coal miners and their families greatly improved, and for a short time life was good.

    Then came strip mining, which endangered lives and destroyed the landscape. Thus, companies began to deep mine the coal closer to the surface, for it had less methane and sulphur content. Many companies left WV to mine this coal in areas which was closer to the surface and less expensive to mine. Many of these companies opened up non-union mines in other states.

    While all this was going on, WV politicians did little to nothing to bring in other industries to replace the thousands of coal mining jobs being lost.

    While cleaning up how coal operators had done things for years, WV did little to bring in new industry, so in the process of cleaning up how coal operators did things, no one thought about the impact on WV's economy and its people.

    So when did the coal "War on Coal" begin, in the early 1960s. And state politicians has still done little to bring in new industry. McDowell County which was once the richest County in the State is now one of the poorest in the nation.

    What WV needs are politicians who can think out of the box. Politicians that are futuristic in their though processes, and who can bring good paying jobs back to WV.

    The only industry in WV that has improved since the downward spiral of coal, has been the tourist industry. This is a good thing! However, WV needs jobs and industries that don't negatively impact its mountains, streams and waterways. WV needs lawmakers that have good business minds and skills.

    Are we still going to hear "War on Coal" for another 50 years or more, and yet see little done to improve the economy of WV?

  • Chris1529

    They are going to build the ventillation shaft anyway. They pulled their permit request for the original site close to the lake after much public outcry. At least they are taking some steps to protect the State Park area.

  • David

    Yeah let those miners suffocate ...

  • Mason County Contrarian

    Sounds to me like more ammunition for the so-called "war on coal".

    Once again, the coal industry itself proves to be its worst enemy.

  • MOCO man

    I think the point here is..........when people go to a state park, they don't want to see all of that not hear all of the fan noise. Most people go to a park to relax and "get away". Don't be so critical.......

  • Out of view.

    You gotta love the DEP for keeping the shaft out of site. Drive down US 119 toward Mingo Co. and check out the MTR. The DEP says "Boys don't let the traveling public see what we are permiting, so keep a bumper zone on the permit and we will approve it".