Lodestar Energy, Inc., permit number 913-5003, is located in Webster Counter and Union County, near the town of Wheatcroft. The permit has had quite a varied history of ownership since it began in the 1960s. The site was first permitted by Pyro Coal Company later transferred to Costain Coal Company and most recently Lodestar Energy, Inc. Lodestar operated the site as a prep plant, mine offices, deep mine, refuse area and slurry impoundments. Lodestar filed for bankruptcy in 2003 and all operations and reclamation stopped.
At approximately the same time, Lodestar’s bonding company also failed, thereby calling into question the validity of the bonds. The site had approximately 1,000 acres of surface area permitted and disturbed. The default presented enormous environmental liability to the Commonwealth.
Through the efforts of the Commissioners’ office, Mike Haines, Paul Rothman, Michael Wood and Peter Irwin, an agreement was reached whereby all owners and controllers would fund an escrow account that would be used to reclaim all remaining Lodestar sites with the largest site being permit 913-5003. NewBridge Services, Inc. was hired as the reclamation manager for the Lodestar sites. NewBridge Services negotiated a reclamation contract with Kenny Allen, then of Peabody Coal and Dyson Creek for the reclamation of the Pyro site.
The site is made up of several major areas. The refuse fill, approximately 375 acres, slurry impoundments, an MSHA impoundment, office buildings, transformer storage areas, mine waste areas, railroad lines, warehouses, access roads, belt lines, concrete silos and railroad maintenance buildings totally approximately 1,000 permitted acres.
It was decided that all buildings, for the most part, should be removed, all coal storage areas covered, the refuse areas graded and covered with lime and two feet of cover placed over all refuse and coal stockpile areas, transformers removed, MSHA impoundment areas filled in and covered, prep plant, beltline and concrete silos removed and covered with two feet of topsoil and the area lined, seeded and mulched. Further, the agreement set the amount of monies available for reclamation. Therefore, no change orders could take place after the reclamation began.
It was a monumental task.
National Award Winning Project
NewBridge Services entered into an agreement with Dyson Creek during the spring of 2004. Dyson began immediately removing all structures, reestablishing silt control, grading of the surface areas, removing all concrete silos and the reclamation for the 40-acre MSHA impoundments. Dyson and NewBridge worked continuously on the site from 2004 through the spring of 2010 when the reclamation was deemed complete.
Although the contract required only 24 inches of topsoil in covering all areas, an average of 48 inches of topsoil was layered on approximately 450 acres of the site at no additional cost to the Commonwealth. The contract required no re-grading of areas affected adversely by weather, but the areas were consistently regraded. The contract required to only seed areas once, but large and small areas were consistently reseeded as needed.
There were many unforeseen circumstances that because of the site size and magnitude could not be predicted prior to the contract being entered. However, NewBridge consistently addressed these issues at no additional costs to the Commonwealth.
NewBridge was awarded the 2010 Commissioners Award for Excellence in Reclamation.