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Buckingham 7 Mine

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This article is part of the Coal Issues portal on SourceWatch, a project of CoalSwarm and the Center for Media and Democracy. See here for help on adding material to CoalSwarm.

Buckingham Mine No 7 is an underground coal mining operation in Perry County, Ohio, operated by Buckingham Coal Company and owned by James F. Graham. The company wants to mine a 41-acre tunnel below Burr Oak national park to connect the Buckingham 7 Mine with an untapped coal reserve just east of the state park, an area over 155 acres. The park is in Morgan and Athens counties.[1]

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Mine expansion

In December 2009, the Ohio legislature passed an agreement allowing the company to mine a 41-acre tunnel below Burr Oak national park to connect the Buckingham 7 Mine with an untapped coal reserve just east of the state park, in exchange for a one-time $210,000 royalty. Also in return for the tunnel and rights to 155 acres of state-owned coal, Buckingham gave up ownership of 244 acres of coal near the park's lake and beneath its main entrance. Trish Lanahan, a spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, said the deal will help prevent lake water from draining into a collapsed mine; without the agreement, Lanahan said the company could have mined coal beneath the park's main entrance and right up to the lake's western shore.[2]

The deal was protested by the Buckeye Forest Council advocacy group, who say the Burr Oak Regional Water District takes 2 million gallons a day from the lake to help supply drinking water to about 25,000 people in 16 nearby communities, and that the tunnel would draw water away from Sunday Creek, the lake's largest source of water. They also worry about water pollution. The Forest Council waged a 9-year-long legal battle to keep the Ohio Valley Coal Co. from mining beneath Dysart Woods in Belmont County. The forest, owned by Ohio University, hosts many centuries-old trees. That fight ended in March 2007 when an Ohio appeals court in Belmont County sided with the company and Natural Resources officials, who argued that the mine would not drain water or otherwise harm that forest. Agency officials say the same about Buckingham's proposed tunnel, approving a mining permit for the tunnel on March 5, 2010.[2]

In May 2011, a federal judge refused to order Buckingham Coal Co. to suspend tunneling beneath Burr Oak State Park in southeastern Ohio, denying the U.S. Department of Justice's request for a temporary restraining order. The Justice Department lawsuit said that mining the area presented an "unacceptable risk" of sinkholes and reduced water flow into the nearby east branch of Sunday Creek, a main tributary of a lake in the park. It also argued that tunneling was prohibited under a 1948 contract between Ohio and the Army Corps of Engineers, saying it was signed before the park's dam and lake were built, and asked the court to prohibit the mining and order Ohio to terminate its lease with Buckingham Coal.[3]

Judge Graham concluded that the government's contention was not backed up with evidence, and that the 1948 agreement did not specifically prohibit Ohio from conveying coal interests under Burr Oak to a coal company. The judge made the decision after the Justice Department sued Ohio and Buckingham Coal in U.S. District Court in Columbus in early May over the tunneling.[3]

Graham also said in his 11-page ruling that Buckingham's mining under Burr Oak is "critical" for its ability to fulfill its "contractual obligation to supply coal to American Electric Power through March 31, 2020." He said that without the tunneling, Buckingham would have to mine the coal in a much more expensive and "environmentally disruptive" way.[3]

Mine Data

  • MSHA ID: 3304520
  • Operator: Buckingham Coal Company
  • Controller: James F Graham
  • Union:
  • County: Perry
  • State: OH
  • Latitude: 39.58
  • Longitude: -82.06
  • 2007 Production (short tons): 579,299
  • Coal Type: Bituminous
  • Mining Method: Underground
  • Mine Status: Active
  • Average No. of Employees: 66

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References

  1. Spencer Hunt, "Coal company to tunnel beneath state park" The Columbus Dispatch, March 22, 2010.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Spencer Hunt, "Coal company to tunnel beneath state park" The Columbus Dispatch, March 22, 2010.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Kathy Lynn Gray, "Judge: Mining under state park can continue" The Columbus Dispatch, May 13, 2011.

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