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Drone’s-Eye-View of Acid Mine Drainage Treatment Plant Reveals Water’s Transformation

November 05, 2019 01:00 PM

​Tasked with taming acid mine drainage (AMD) and mitigating the impact of past mining practices on the Commonwealth’s land and water resources and communities, DEP’s Bureau of Abandoned Mine Reclamation (BAMR) is a recognized national leader.  

This compelling drone’s-eye-view of one successful BAMR project, the Lancashire No. 15 Acid Mine Drainage (AMD) Treatment Plant, reveals how millions of gallons of orange AMD water can be transformed into clear water before flowing through the town of Northern Cambria and into the West Branch Susquehanna River.  

Construction on the $13 million facility in Barr Township, Cambria County, began ten years ago in October 2009 with the cleanup of coal refuse piles and an illegal dump on the site. Now, the acidic, metal-laden drainage that once spilled into waterways and suppressed fish populations for miles is instead pumped from deep underground and treated through a cost-effective automated system. The plant uses a clarifier and 2.5-acre polishing pond to remove pollutants and stabilize the temperature of an average of 6.2 million gallons per day.  

The facility, which is operated by BAMR, is credited for the restoration of over 30 miles of the West Branch Susquehanna River. Funding for the Lancashire plant was provided by Pennsylvania’s Abandoned Mine Land Grant and the Growing Greener 2 program.  This fact sheet contains more information.

PBS member station WPSU captured the drone footage and interviewed Ken Bobak, a Mining Engineer with DEP-BAMR’s Cambria Office and a member of the Northern Cambria community, about the treatment plant and its impact. View the entire “Our Town: Northern Cambria” program, including Ken’s interview beginning around 1 hour 12 minutes.

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