EPA Public Meeting Brings Nature Concerns, Process Questions

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The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency held a public meeting and information session last night to get input on a potential mining project in the area.
OEPA Representatives met with the 13 people that came to Trimble High School to voice their opinion of Oxford Mining Company’s plan to conduct surface mining near Johnson Run Road.

The meeting was held “to discuss a water quality certification application for a mining project in Trimble Township near the intersection of Johnson Run and Oakdale roads,” according to a news release from the Ohio EPA.

In the application for the water quality certification, signed by Steve Cassidy, environmental coordinator for the mining company, Oxford states it plans to recover a coal seam “by surface mining operations.”

The project is proposed to cover 299.3 acres and is estimated to recover 1,160,000 tons of coal, a project overview included with the certification application states. Two “alternative” plans, which the EPA required of the mining company, would result in less land effects, but also less coal production from the site, according to EPA officials at the meeting.

The company wrote that their preferred plan for the project would cause “primary impacts” to more than 1,200 feet of streams and 2.51 acres of wetlands.

Residents of the Johnson Run Road and Sunday Creek area were on hand, asking questions about the process to get certification and what would happen downstream to parts of the waterway used by the company.

Terry Harvey, who owns a farm across the street from the proposed site of the coal mining operation, said his cattle drinks from Sunday Creek, and he uses the water for his farm.

“Right now, (Sunday Creek) is in good condition, I find clam shells, and if there are clam shells, it means it’s pretty clean,” Harvey said, adding that he hopes that doesn’t change.

OEPA members said Oxford Mining has agreed, as part of the water quality certification application, to return the waterways to their former status after they were done with the project.

The concerns about the health of Sunday Creek were also explained by Michelle Shively, who is a member of Rural Action and coordinator for the Sunday Creek Watershed restoration group. She told the EPA officials she hoped the company would take notice of the work done to the creek over the years.

“We hope that the Ohio EPA and the Oxford Mining Company will take into account the tremendous investment and the resulting water quality improvements that have occurred in the Sunday Creek watershed, and take the necessary precautions to not endanger biological communities and the quality habitats downstream from the mining operation,” Shively said.

She said about $2.5 million has gone into improving the water quality of the creek, and it has taken four years to see the change in quality.

“One of the sights upstream on the west branch (of the creek) had zero fish before treatment, and now, just four years later, we’re supporting 17 species of fish,” Shively said.

Shannon Stewart, a resident of the area brought up the economic effects a downturn in water quality could have on not just Sunday Creek, but the natural resources of the region as a whole.

“If nature is not attractive, or if it doesn’t exist there at all, (visitors or potential residents) are not going to come here and become a part of our economy or a part of our community,” Stewart said.

Construction was projected to begin this month and last until May 2022.

Public comment on the water quality certification continues until June 1. Comments can also be submitted in writing, and sent to Ohio EPA-DSW, Permits Processing Unit, P.O. Box 1049, Columbus Ohio, 43216-1049. They can also be emailed to