The EHB ruled that the renewal of the NPDES permit was invalid because the discharges from Kaiser's inactive Potato Ridge Mine consistently violate the permit s effluent limitations. It also held that the renewed permit was inconsistent with the approved Total Maximum Daily load (TMDL) for the receiving stream, Laurel Run. The EHB did not decide the issue of whether DEP is barred from renewing an NPDES permit for a mine where DEP has determined that the bond posted by the permittee is insufficient to guarantee perpetual treatment of a postmining discharge.
In June 2006, DEP signed a series of agreements with Kaiser Aluminum & Chemical Corp., DCNR, and other parties that will result in treatment of the mine drainage discharges from Kaiser s Potato Ridge Mine and (at least) the "A/C Seeps" from DCNR s Smith Mine in a single treatment system. Kaiser and DCNR are putting up a total of $4.9 million to guarantee the construction and long-term operation, maintenance, and replacement of the new treatment system, which should go on-line during 2007.
A newly created company, Potato Ridge LLC, will obtain and hold the NPDES permit authorizing the discharge of treated mine drainage from the existing and new treatment systems.
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