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Pennsylvania Brownfields & Environmental Law Information and Developments in Brownfields and Pennsylvania Environmental Law

EHB Rules on Interesting Mine Subsidence Claim

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The PA Environmental Hearing Board issued a decision yesterday in an interesting case involving the application of the PA Mine Subsidence Act.   The case involves a claim filed by the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) against a mining company for alleged damages to a dam at the Ryerson Station State Park.  Ordinarily, claims under the Mine Subsidence Act are relatively routine because they involve damages to a home or a business where the cost of repairs are easily determined and compensation can be provided.  In this case, none of the parties could accurately determine the cost to replace the dam.  The statute says that the mining company can be required to pay the cost of repairs but the compensation can’t exceed the cost of replacing the dam.   The mining company sought summary judgment on the grounds that DEP couldn’t determine the cost of replacing the dam.  How much could that be?  I don’t know but the mining company had to post a bond for the appeal that was over $20 million, so would appear to be a lot at stake in this case.  The Board denied the motion for summary judgment filed by the mining company and said that there were material facts in dispute.   There are some other interesting issues in the case involving the fact that one agency of the commonwealth is judging the validity of a claim filed by a sister agency.  While the Board said that relationship could be troublesome, it wasn’t enough to keep the case from proceeding forward.