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Wilkes-Barre, PA – The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is conducting an air monitoring study near an active mine reclamation project in Western Schuylkill County to evaluate particulate matter in the air. The study will evaluate air quality in the vicinity of the Rausch Creek Generation facility in response to concerns by residents over fly ash, as well as other material generated by excavation and remediation work near the site. A portion of the study site is located in an Environmental Justice (EJ) Area and is subject to enhanced public participation.
"The Department is committed to being transparent with residents about what is in the air they breathe and how we monitor any contaminants that are present near their homes," said DEP Secretary Rich Negrin. "We have made environmental justice a priority in this Administration and the Department will continue to engage with residents in Schuylkill County as we conduct this critically important air monitoring."
The study will utilize dust fall jars set up at 4-5 separate locations in the area of Rausch Creek to collect 30 days' worth of samples that will be evaluated for a period of 6 months to 1 year beginning in September 2023. The samples will be analyzed for insoluble materials and then microscopically evaluated to identify the specific particulate collected and where it may have originated. The results will be evaluated against the state-wide air quality standard for settled particulate matter which is 43 T/ MI2/M (tons per square mile/per month).
Because a portion of the area near the facility is considered an EJ area, the Department's recently adopted EJ Policy calls for enhanced public participation processes – and residents in the local communities requested that the DEP conduct this study. The local communities impacted by the study include: Frailey Township, Porter Township, Tremont Township, Tremont Borough and Good Springs and Donaldson areas.
The Department's Pottsville District Mining Office is currently reviewing three permit applications by Rausch Creek Land, L.P. to reclaim three sites in Tremont, Hegins and Porter Townships. The work proposed includes strip mining activities with blasting, the reconfiguration of site boundaries and construction of roadways. Rausch Creek is currently approved for coal ash placement, and no proposed changes are under review.
The air monitoring study is expected to be complete in 2024. DEP will publish the results at that time and make them available to the public.
For more information, visit the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection's website, or follow DEP on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.
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