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Mining Permit Near Kanawha State Forest Draws Concerns

Reported: May. 1, 2014 6:51 PM EDT
Updated: May. 3, 2014 10:45 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (Dan Matics) -- A surface mining operation will soon be coming to Kanawha County, now that a permit's been granted.

But not everyone is happy, especially when you consider where the mine will be setting up shop.

A strip mine is about to be up and running, right next to Kanawha State Forest.

People are less than pleased, even though the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection d-says the mine will very little impact on its soon-to-be next door neighbor.

The forest and a surface mining operation - it's a sharp contrast on many levels, and that's exactly what has Henry Thomas and others who live and visit here worried.

"I'm really concerned," he said.

This week, the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection issued a permit for Keystone Industries for a strip mine.

The mine will operate on a 414-acre section of land that butts right up against the forest.

“2,000 yards from my home there will be a strip mine," Thomas said.

While maybe not the ideal next door neighbor, the DEP says it worked for nearly five years fine-tuning the permit so it won't have an impact on the forest and its tourism.

The permit requires a buffer zone to the forest, and several restoration requirements after mining.

The mine company also won't use any forest roads for equipment or hauling coal.

Even still, some environmentalists don't buy it, and they're going door to door, to spread the word.

"There is certainly no way that this surface mine will not impact the people who use this forest, when it's across the creek and a one lane road," Johanna Degraffenreid, of the Kanawha Forest Coalition, said.

Her concern is stream pollution, blasting noise and air quality from dust.

And with the recent chemical spill, the people in the area say this will be yet another blow to Kanawha County tourism.

"If it damages the looks of the community no one is going to come here," Thomas said.




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 said 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.

The final ridge to be mined will be visible to park visitors. The timetable for reclamation will be accelerated.

Copyright 2013 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



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