Bliss Bank Reclamation
The Bliss Bank property was owned and extensively mined by the Blue Coal Corporation. When the company declared bankruptcy in the 1970s, the site was left ravaged: a 200-acre stretch of massive culm banks, artificial ridges, and deep pits, on which little more than feeble trees and scraggly brush could grow. Mining operations also disrupted local hydrology. The channel of Espy Run, which ran through the site, was destroyed. The spoil piles also produced acid mine drainage. Illegal dumping and trespassing were prevalent.
Initial reclamation of Bliss Bank began in 2005 through remining activities for cogeneration of heat and electricity through an Energy Harvest award from the Pennsylvania DEP. Targeted reclamation activities started in 2014, and have proceeded in phases. Phase I was completed in 2016. Work on Phase II is anticipated to be completed in 2019. Phase III, which includes utility tie-ins and an access road, is underway. Engineering design for Phases IV and V is expected to begin in 2019, as well. Reestablishment of the “missing segment” of Espy Run will also occur (read more about that project here). In total, the projects will move approximately 830,000 cubic yards of material. Funding has been provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Brownfields Cleanup program; the Pennsylvania DEP’s Growing Greener and AML Pilot Programs; and Earth Conservancy.