No dangerous dust levels at Blaschak coal mine

THE Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has determined that dust from the Blaschak coal mine operations in Luzerne County is not a danger to residents in the immediate area and the company will not be subjected to additional environmental controls.

Lou Caruana

However, Blaschak has agreed to continue with dust control practices recommended by the department and already in place.

The department’s monitoring began in July of 2012 after complaints from residents that dust from the mining and quarry operations was coating their homes and other parts of their properties.

Dust jars were set up a four locations in the area near Blaschak to collect samples from October of 2012 through December of 2014.

After a review by the department’s Air Quality staff in 2015, the sample results indicated that the typical components of the material collected in the jars included: organic material, soil dust, and coal dust. The monthly levels of dust in the air at all four locations were estimated to be between 3.54 tons/per square mile to 5.05 tons/per square mile, which are well below levels that would be considered a threat to the public.

Air quality standards recommend that dust levels at or above 43 tons/per square mile require air quality controls set by the department, according to DEP northeast regional office director Mike Bedrin.

“When residents asked for the department to take a look at this issue, we immediately responded with air monitoring because people were concerned about the air they were breathing,” he said.

“The monitoring showed no danger, but the company is still working to minimize dust from their property.”

The department has recommended that Blaschak continue with best management practices to control the dust, such as: slowing down trucks on nearby roads, watering roads, paved areas and blasting areas as necessary, using approved dust suppressants as necessary, sweep any paved areas as necessary, refrain from blasting on windy days and insuring all dust suppression systems at the crushing facility and breaker are operating and functional at all times.