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DNR Reclamation Earns National Award For Minnehaha Project
Updated August 21, 2015 7:23 AM | Filed under: Natural Resources
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(DUGGER) - The Indiana Department of Natural Resources Division of Reclamation recently earned national recognition for its work to eliminate the Minnehaha slurry pond in Sullivan County.

The project was done at Abandoned Mines Land (AML) Site 2052, east of Dugger. It addressed urgent safety and environmental dangers posed by a weakened levee that was holding back the abandoned slurry pond. A sudden failure would have caused a massive discharge of water and slurry downstream, damaging property and threatening public health and safety.

The project repaired the levee, reclaimed the coal refuse, and remediated the acid mine drainage.

The honor, the 2015 Mid-Continent Regional Award, is from the U.S. Department of the Interior's Office of Surface Mining, Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE). It recognizes an exemplary reclamation project that emphasizes the elimination of dangerous health, safety and environmental problems resulting from abandoned mine lands within OSMRE's mid-continent region.

DNR Reclamation engineers designed a landform to accommodate a large sulfate-reducing bioreactor, significantly improving the quality of water leaving the site. The engineers used an adjacent completed project and cooperated with a neighboring active mine to increase efficiency and achieve superior landscape-wide reclamation.

"This project was one of the most expensive in cost and extensive in scope projects we have attempted in our 30 years of construction," said Steve Weinzapfel, Division of Reclamation director. "In a very confined work space, we treated and released more than 6 million gallons of water, created a groundbreaking sulfate-reducing bioreactor and surrounded the site with a geomorphic design incorporating a meandering stream and gently sloping hills.

"Our internal engineering and design staff did a great job of planning, while the on-site project manager remained flexible and met unexpected challenges with innovative suggestions. It is a great example of teamwork."

Work was completed by Aigner Construction, Inc. of Boonville, at a cost of $6.59 million.

DNR Reclamation administers the surface coal mining laws for the State of Indiana. The Inspection and Enforcement Section permits and inspects active coal mines. The Restoration Section is responsible for eliminating public health and safety hazards and environmental degradation resulting from coal mining activities that took place prior to the enactment of the current reclamation law.

All DNR Reclamation activities are funded through fees collected from active coal mining production. Without the collection of the fees, projects such as the work at Minnehaha could not be completed. Indiana is a member of both the Interstate Mining Compact Commission and the National Association of Abandoned Mine Land Programs. Both organizations are in the early stages of seeking congressional extension of the fee collection before its expiration in 2021.

For more information, call the Reclamation field office in Jasonville at (812) 665-2207; or, toll- free if calling inside Indiana at 1-800-772-6463; or visit their website at

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