Black Meas Project impacts include relocation
November 30, 2006
-- Peabody Western Coal Co.'s proposed Black Mesa Project
would require the relocation of 17 Navajo households,
the clearing of more than 13,000 acres of land, and
an expected decrease in groundwater quality.
to a Draft Environmental Impact Statement released last
week by the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and
Enforcement, the primary impacts to people and lands
adjacent to the Black Mesa Complex are relocation, nuisance
dust and noise.
would attempt to relocate the families to other sections
of their customary use areas. The relocation would include
providing new houses, areas for family garden plots
and livestock grazing.
would be able to return to their original home sites
following reclamation of the mined area, or in about
20 to 25 years, according to the EIS.
It is anticipated
that during the 20 to 25 year reclamation timeline,
the groundwater system would reach a new balance.
springs could return, but some would not. There also
could be a decrease in groundwater quality, both from
increased total dissolved solids and formation of acidic
water pockets," OSM said.
would be required to provide alternate water supplies
in areas affected by contamination, the diminishment
of water supplies, or interruption resulting from mining
coal washing and earth materials would be reburied in
mined pits, with impacts expected to be similar to that
preferred alternative, the upper 250 feet of surface
material would be removed from more than 13,529 acres.
This would include the loss of about 8,500 acres of
pinon and juniper and about 4,200 acres of sagebrush.
on the 13,529 acres would be permanently removed during
the mining operation.
unpermitted 18,984 acres where the Black Mesa mining
operation has been conducted would be added to the 44,073
acres in the existing OSM permit area along with 127
acres on the Hopi Reservation for a proposed 2-mile-long
and 500-foot-wide coal-haul road right-of-way.
give Peabody a permit area totaling 63,184 acres for
the Black Mesa Complex.
the Kayenta and Black Mesa mining operations would be
considered one operation for the purpose of regulation
by OSM, and would continue until 2026.
related to mining and coal handling would result in
about 145 tons of additional particulate matter being
generated by the end of the project.
matter is very small solid particles of chemicals, soil
or dust, and liquid droplets that can aggravate breathing
and health problems. Residents living next to the mining
operations would have greater exposure.
of the coal slurry pipeline would disturb another 2,100
acres of land. That could take in from 24 percent to
38 percent of previously undisturbed land, depending
on which route is chosen.
cultural resources eligible for listing on the National
Register of Historic Places were identified within the
existing coal-slurry pipeline right-of-way.
are considered significant because of their potential
to yield important information about the prehistory
and history of the region.
route would affect nine more sites, all of which also
are National Register-eligible properties, OSM said.
about 55 residences located within the area identified
for the C-aquifer well field. Impacts include temporary
interruption of grazing and traffic.
potential impact is the lowering of water levels in
shallow livestock wells in the vicinity of the well
field. Should the
groundwater levels drop to the point the shallow wells
become inoperable, an alternate water source would be
acres of grazing land within the well-field area would
be permanently lost due to construction of support structures.
The structures would create visual impacts that would
be minimized by painting them to blend with the surroundings.