Learn about the Lake, it's history, and what's happening to restore it!
RYERSON STATION STATE PARK/DUKE LAKE
One of the Center for Coalfield Justice’s biggest priorities is seeing Duke Lake in Ryerson Station State Park restored. On July 28, 2005, Duke Lake was drained by the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) because of safety issues due to cracks in the dam that sustained the picturesque lake. Five years later in 2010, the PA DCNR and Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), initiated proceedings against CONSOL Energy to repair and restore the dam. DEP determined that the cracks resulted from longwall mining activities at the nearby Bailey Mine. In April 2011, CCJ intervened in the case on behalf of our membership and community. We did this to make sure that the interests of our membership were represented, and more specifically, to make sure that proceedings continued at a reasonable pace so that this generation of Southwestern Pennsylvania residents had the opportunity to experience the beauty of Duke Lake and Ryerson Station State Park.
In Spring 2013, Consol settled the case with DCNR and DEP. The Center for Coalfield Justice was pleased to hear that after eight years, there was finally a clear path towards the restoration of Duke Lake in Ryerson Station State Park. We are quite disappointed, however, that CONSOL managed to weasel out of taking responsibility for damage they inflicted on the dam at Duke Lake and that the dam is not even expected to be fully restored until 2017. This case provided an opportunity for Pennsylvania officials to finally take CONSOL’s intimidation tactics and recklessness head on by requiring CONSOL to admit fault as part of the settlement, but that did not happened here.
Destroying Duke Lake at Ryerson Station Park was not enough for CONSOL, now they are expanding the Bailey Mine to extract more coal within the park. This mine expansion threatens to destroy important feeder streams to the restored Duke Lake. In total, 14 streams will be affected by this expansion, including Kent Run, Polen Run, North Fork Dunkard Fork and Whitethorn Run. In May 2014 the Center for Coalfield Justice filed an appeal of the issuance of the Bailey Mine expansion permit within and near Ryerson. The permit application predicted several years of stream disruption and damage so severe that “flow loss would most likely reduce, if not eliminate fishing opportunities” in Ryerson Station State Park.
Consol has recently submitted a new permit revision for the Bailey Mine that will allow full extraction mining under Polen Run for two panels of the mine. Consol’s permit application states that because the streambed has multiple sections of brittle rock which will be undermined, Polen Run “may experience enhanced periods of low flow or no flow….” This level of disruption and damage meets the definition of “pollution” under the Pennsylvania Clean Streams Law, which includes changes in stream flow and flow loss. Allowing these predicted changes in flow and flow loss to occur is a violation of the law. When the DEP issues a permit for an underground mine, the Department must find that the company applying for the permit has demonstrated that there is no presumptive evidence of potential pollution of waters of the Commonwealth. Here, Consol has admitted that the expansion of the Bailey Mine underneath Polen Run will change stream flow and lead to a loss of water in Polen Run.
Denial of this permit revision would be a significant road block for Consol Energy and its plan to expand the mine under Ryerson Station State Park. It is vital to have as many voices as possible tell the DEP why it is important to protect our streams and community spaces!