Home Environment Ohio EPA terminates water discharge permit at Perry State Forest

Ohio EPA terminates water discharge permit at Perry State Forest

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Perry State Forest sign. Photo courtesy ODNR

The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA) announced Thursday it will terminate a wastewater discharge permit submitted by a coal company for a proposed coal mine in Perry State Forest. 

Community members received a citizen advisory from the OEPA proposing the termination of the CCU Coal and Construction LLC wastewater discharge permit for the Perry State Forest proposed mine site. This was done at the request of the company.  

“This is a huge victory for our community and our forest,” Lauren Ketcham, a New Lexington farmer and public relations chair for Friends of Perry State Forest, said in a press release. “The state heard from more than 1,000 local residents, businesses and recreationists who spoke loud and clear that they didn’t want to see our public forest handed over to a private company to be destroyed.”

The company — CCU Coal and Construction LLC, formerly known as Oxford Mining Company — submitted a wastewater discharge permit to the OEPA, which it issued in December 2018. The permit would have allowed the company to release treated wastewater from coal mining operations into Rush Creek and an unnamed tributary of Buckey Fork. Both are located near the Perry State Forest, according to OEPA Media Relations Coordinator Anthony Chenault.

Friends of Perry State Forest — a group of local community members, all-purpose vehicle (APV) riders, farmers and business owners — has been working since early 2018 to protect the forest from the proposed mining operations, according to a press release from the organization.

The company still has a permit pending to mine a 500-acre area located near State Route 345 and north of County Road 48, according to a previous report from The New Political. Without a water discharge permit however, the company cannot begin mining operations at the site, according to the Ohio Environmental Council Staff Attorney Chris Tavenor.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) is still awaiting requested revisions for the mining permit submitted by the coal company. Termination of the water discharge permit does not prevent ODNR from continuing to process the permit, although it would require that a new water discharge permit be issued by the OEPA before mining operations could begin, according to an ODNR spokesmember.

The water discharge permit termination by OEPA will go into effect April 1. CCU Coal and Construction LLC did not respond for comment at the time of publication.

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