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Proposed SMT East Surface Mine

Background

Ligonier Stone & Lime Company is proposing a new noncoal surface mine, the SMT East Surface Mine, on a 224.2-acre site along PA-217 and across from Torrance Road in Derry Township, Westmoreland County, approximately 0.25 miles northwest of Brenizer, PA.

The proposed first phase of the SMT East Surface Mine project would involve construction of a 14.6-acre processing pad on the northern portion of the permit area. The proposed second phase would be surface mining a 15.4-acre area in the southern portion of the permit area to remove Benwood Limestone. This operation would be adjacent to and east of the existing SMT Property Surface Mine, a coal surface mine permit also operated by Ligonier Stone & Lime Company, and northeast of another permitted noncoal surface mine, the Jelley Mine. Ligonier Stone & Lime Company has not yet begun any mining activities at the Jelley Mine.

Environmental permits from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) are required for the construction and/or operation of this proposed project. On January 25, 2021, Ligonier Stone & Lime Company submitted applications for a new noncoal surface mining permit [No. 65210301] and an individual National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit [No. PA0278491].

The proposed mining activity would include blasting operations. The operator estimates that the second phase mining operation would last approximately nine years. Disturbed areas would be restored after completion in accordance with the approved reclamation plan. Ligonier Stone & Lime Company would be required to secure bonding in an amount adequate to reclaim the site if the permittee fails to do so.

The NPDES application includes three sediment pond outfalls (treated water discharges) and one treatment pond outfall (which may not be constructed if not needed) and proposes that the site would discharge treated water (after settling of sediment and in the case of a treatment pond, pH adjustment) into an unnamed tributary to Stony Run, and unnamed tributaries to Conemaugh River. The streams are identified as cold-water fisheries in the regulations (25 Pa. Code Chapter 93) and are within the Kiskiminetas-Conemaugh River watershed. The Kiskiminetas-Conemaugh River watershed is impaired for aquatic life by acid mine drainage (AMD) from abandoned mines. When a waterway is impaired, DEP must develop a plan to clean it up so it can achieve its designated use. Discharges to the Kiskiminetas-Conemaugh River watershed are subject to a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL), which is one type of plan that limits discharges and is intended to not only prevent the impairment from getting worse, but to clean up an impaired waterway. DEP will consider the TMDL as it reviews the NPDES application. There is no public water supply intake within 10 miles downstream from the points of discharge.

This proposed location of this mine is within a half mile of Brenizer, which is an environmental justice (EJ) area. When this type of permit is submitted for an EJ area, DEP engages in enhanced public outreach as described in the current EJ Public Participation Policy. More on environmental justice can be found below.

Map of proposed site boundaries

Permitting/Approvals

Surface Mining Permit (SMP) and individual National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) applications

On January 25, 2021, Ligonier Stone & Lime Company submitted an application for a new noncoal surface mining permit [No. 65210301] for the proposed SMT East Surface Mine. Applications must include all necessary application sections, or modules, based on the proposed activity. This application includes a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit application [No. PA0278491] that can be found in Module 2. A NPDES permit is required for any point source discharge to waters of the commonwealth and is a key component of nearly all mining activity permits.

On February 10, 2021, DEP accepted this application as administratively complete, which simply means that all the parts are in the application, without yet considering the application’s merits. DEP’s technical staff will review the application to determine if it complies with Pennsylvania’s laws and regulations applicable to noncoal mining.

On October 22, 2021, DEP issued a technical deficiency letter (TDL). The applicant requested a 45-day extension to responds to the TDL. DEP granted an extension for responses to January 6, 2022.

On January 5, 2022, DEP received a response to its TDL. The possible treatment pond outfall was added as part of the response to the TDL. In addition, the applicant added two non-discharging closed-loop process ponds with a sediment pond below them.

DEP is currently reviewing this response and its technical review of the application is ongoing.

Permitting Activities Summary

During the technical review of this noncoal surface mine permit, DEP staff evaluate the application with regards to potential impacts to the surrounding area and whether those impacts relate to land, water, or air. Some of the key items that are evaluated include:

  • area of impact (permit boundary, mining area(s), wetlands),
  • surface water and ground water quality (including private water supplies) with-in 1,000’ of the proposed permit area,
  • public water supply intakes downstream of the proposed site,
  • water monitoring plan – which includes wells and monitoring points upstream and downstream of the proposed permit site,
  • site geology and hydrogeology,
  • blasting activity plan,
  • air quality and noise evaluation,
  • erosion and sedimentation controls,
  • water treatment techniques,
  • NPDES application (to assign effluent discharge limits),
  • mining plan and procedures (including excavation, utilities protection, topsoil handling),
  • required bonding for proposed activity,
  • proposed reclamation plan, and
  • land use of the site both pre and post mining.

These evaluations are done to determine if the proposed activity can be performed in a manner that is consistent with existing environmental laws, regulations, and mining practices. When deficiencies are found, DEP will communicate with and provide the applicant with an opportunity to supplement or revise the application to conform with the laws and regulations. If an application cannot be revised to conform with the standards listed above, DEP may request that the applicant withdraw their application or deny the application.

Key completed, current, and upcoming activities in the permitting process are listed below to help illustrate our process. Some activities may occur simultaneously.

= Completed Steps, = Current Step, = Next Steps

Administrative completeness review
Initial public notifications
Accepted for technical review
Production of technical deficiency letter (TDL), if necessary
Technical review of NPDES application
Pennsylvania Bulletin publication of draft NPDES limits (30-day public comment period follows publication)
Technical review of SMP application
Review of applicant’s response to TDL and issue second TDL, if necessary
NPDES application package to EPA (EPA comments due 30 days later)
Applicant places corrected notice in a newspaper of general circulation
Public meeting

Application Documents

 Accordion



Expand AllClick here for a more accessible version


A paper copy of the permit application and other associated documents can be found at the following locations. Please visit the webpages for each location for hours and additional information.

DEP New Stanton District Mining Office
131 Broadview Road
New Stanton, PA 15672
724-925-5500

Blairsville Public Library
113 North Walnut Street
Blairsville, PA 15717
724-459-6077

Air Quality Plan Approval

Ligonier Stone & Lime Company previously applied for air quality plan approval [PA-65-01128A] from DEP’s Southwest Regional Office for the installation and temporary operation of a stationary stone aggregate processing facility. Plan approval is required for the applicant to start construction of an air contamination source and may allow for temporary operation. A plan approval is not the same as an operating permit, which is required for long-term operation.

On January 1, 2022, DEP published notice of its intent to issue the plan approval in the Pennsylvania Bulletin that includes basic information on the proposed operation.

On February 7, 2022, DEP approved the plan approval.

On February 19, 2022, DEP published notice of issuance of the plan approval effective February 7, 2022.

Once compliance with the plan approval is demonstrated, the applicant will be required to submit a State Only Operating Permit (SOOP) application.

Public Participation

Public Notice and Comment Period

Initial public notice of the application submittal was published in the March 26, April 2, 9, and 16, 2021 editions of the Latrobe Bulletin.

On June 11, 2022, DEP published public notice in the Pennsylvania Bulletin that DEP has prepared a draft NPDES permit and made a tentative determination to issue the NPDES permit in conjunction with the associated mining activity permit.

DEP has set a public comment deadline of August 1, 2022 at 4:00 PM.

DEP reviews all submitted comments and will respond accordingly. Comments must include the commenter’s name, address, phone number, and email address (if applicable).

Comments may be submitted to:

Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection
New Stanton District Mining Operations
P.O. Box 133
New Stanton, PA 15672
724-925-5500

(Contact: Tracy Norbert at tnorbert@pa.gov)

Ligonier Stone & Lime Company sent letters to Derry Township, Westmoreland County and to Westmoreland County officials to inform the local government that it submitted the application to DEP, to provide basic details on the proposal, and to inform the township and the county that officials may submit comments to become part of the land use review.

Virtual Public Information Meeting

On Tuesday, June 28, 2022, DEP will hold a virtual public information meeting for interested individuals to learn more about the proposed activity and ask questions of DEP permitting staff.

Representatives from DEP will present information on the permit review process, display maps onscreen, discuss the application, and answer questions. Individuals who want to participate by asking questions or attend and listen to the meeting should register via the link below a minimum of 24 hours in advance. Questions about the meeting or registration should be directed to Ngani Ndimbie (she/her) at nndimbie@pa.gov or 412-442-4126.

Event: SMT East Public Information Meeting - June 28, 2022
Event address for attendees
Date and time: Tuesday, June 28, 2022, 6:00 pm
Duration: 2 hours
Audio conference: +1-415-655-0003
Access code: 2634 138 3573

Contact Information

If you have questions about this application or DEP’s application review process, please attend the public meeting detailed above or contact:

Chad Meyer
Environmental Program Manager
DEP New Stanton District Mining Office
cmeyer@pa.gov
724-925-5413

If you have questions about environmental justice, please contact:

Ngani Ndimbie
Environmental Justice Regional Coordinator
nndimbie@pa.gov
412-442-4126

More Information

DEP has information sheets and resources to help inform the public of their rights and DEP’s processes:

Environmental Justice

This proposed location of this mine is within a half mile of Brenizer, which is an environmental justice (EJ) area. When this type of permit is submitted for an EJ area, DEP engages in enhanced public outreach as described in the current EJ Public Participation Policy. EJ Areas are mapped on DEP’s EJ Areas Viewer at dep.pa.gov/EJViewer. More information on environmental justice can be found on DEP’s webpage.