DCNR, CONSOL Agreement To Repair Mining Damage To Ryerson Station State Park
The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Wednesday announced it has reached a settlement with CONSOL Energy, Inc. to restore Duke Lake at Ryerson Station State Park in Greene County, as well as add 506 acres to the park.
The lake was drawn down in July 2005 for safety reasons after inspections of the dam uncovered cracks and water seepage. It's anticipated the lake will be restored by the summer of 2017.
"Greene County lost a significant recreational resource when the lake was drawn down, and many residents and community members expressed the need to get the dam replaced as soon as possible," DCNR Secretary Richard Allan said.
"This resolution will put us on the fastest track possible to bring back Duke Lake , and as an added bonus, will result in 506 additional acres of land for the park, an increase of more than 40 percent of the total current acreage."
Allan announced the terms of the agreement during a joint press conference at the park, attended by Sen. Timothy J. Solobay (D-Greene), local officials and members of the Duke Lake Task Force, a group of local community members dedicated to the lake's restoration.
DCNR and CONSOL Energy have been involved in litigation in which DCNR claimed after an investigation through the Department of Environmental Protection and CONSOL Energy denied, that the dam and lake were damaged by longwall mining in the area.
The settlement agreement between the two parties was the result of a two-month mediation process and public comment period and includes the following terms:
CONSOL Energy will:
-- Pay the state $36 million, which will be used to replace the dam;
-- Give DCNR eight plots of land bordering the park, totaling 506 acres, all of which DCNR will add to the park's total recreational space;
-- Build a park maintenance building for DCNR at the park;
-- Monitor stream flows and ground movement with oversight from DEP;
-- Be prohibited from conducting any mining beneath the dam and Duke Lake ;
-- Be prohibited from using any water from the park for drilling activities; and
-- Agree not to drill on state park lands, including where they are already legally allowed to drill by current rights;
-- Receive an 18 percent royalty payment for gas production from wells under the park, after $13.7 million has been realized by CONSOL Energy, which will go into the Oil and Gas Lease Fund;
-- Allow CONSOL Energy to drill for natural gas underneath the park, but only from well pads outside park boundaries to eliminate any surface disturbance within the park; and
-- Allow longwall mining under a portion of the eastern area of the park should CONSOL Energy receive the necessary DEP permits.
DCNR is filing documents that the lawsuit has been settled, and CONSOL Energy is withdrawing appeals it filed with the Environmental Hearing Board.
DCNR and its contractor are currently in the permitting process with DEP's Division of Dam Safety. DEP anticipates the final permit will be conveyed in October 2014.
The project will then be put out for a competitive bid and its anticipated construction could begin in the spring of 2015. The estimated date for restoration of Duke Lake is summer 2017.
The 1,164-acre Ryerson Station State Park, opened in 1967, is in the southwestern corner of Pennsylvania near the West Virginia border.
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