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Environmentalists, DEP raise issues with wind farm

Iron pyrite was among the risks to water quality that opponents of the Sandy Ridge Wind Farm pointed to during Monday's state Department of Environmental Protection public hearing. "Given the formations, there is a likelihood there's some up there," Michael J. Byle, a civil engineer who is working with Gamesa USA, said after the public meeting and hearing on the proposed wind farm. Core drilling has just begun, and the company is looking for the acid rock.

PORT MATILDA - Iron pyrite was among the risks to water quality that opponents of the Sandy Ridge Wind Farm pointed to during Monday's state Department of Environmental Protection public hearing.

"Given the formations, there is a likelihood there's some up there," Michael J. Byle, a civil engineer who is working with Gamesa USA, said after the public meeting and hearing on the proposed wind farm.

Core drilling has just begun, and the company is looking for the acid rock that wreaked havoc on the Interstate 99 project at Skytop but Byle declined to say what has been found.

Bill Fink, mayor-elect of Tyrone Borough, which has leased its municipal watershed in Snyder Township so Gamesa can place 16 turbines there, pressed Gamesa officials to say whether or not they've definitely found pyrite after it was brought up by Save Our Allegheny Ridge representative Laura Jackson.

Gamesa officials said it was too early to report any findings.

David Gurg, program manager for the DEP's Watershed Management Program, said the possibility of pyrite was one of the deficiencies his agency identified in Gamesa's application. The DEP has asked for data on the pyrite and indicated that if it's found,... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

PORT MATILDA - Iron pyrite was among the risks to water quality that opponents of the Sandy Ridge Wind Farm pointed to during Monday's state Department of Environmental Protection public hearing.

"Given the formations, there is a likelihood there's some up there," Michael J. Byle, a civil engineer who is working with Gamesa USA, said after the public meeting and hearing on the proposed wind farm.

Core drilling has just begun, and the company is looking for the acid rock that wreaked havoc on the Interstate 99 project at Skytop but Byle declined to say what has been found.

Bill Fink, mayor-elect of Tyrone Borough, which has leased its municipal watershed in Snyder Township so Gamesa can place 16 turbines there, pressed Gamesa officials to say whether or not they've definitely found pyrite after it was brought up by Save Our Allegheny Ridge representative Laura Jackson.

Gamesa officials said it was too early to report any findings.

David Gurg, program manager for the DEP's Watershed Management Program, said the possibility of pyrite was one of the deficiencies his agency identified in Gamesa's application. The DEP has asked for data on the pyrite and indicated that if it's found, Gamesa would have to change its designs or move roads or turbines to avoid it.

While the DEP doesn't regulate wind farms, it will decide whether Gamesa gets its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit.

The federally-mandated permit ensures that any earth moved because of the project, including the building of roads and turbine pads, is done with minimal impact on water quality.

Gamesa's planned one-lane access road near Big Fill Run is another problem the DEP has with the project, officials said.

Ed Shoener, the consultant who prepared the application on behalf of Gamesa, said the company has gone "above and beyond" what is required by the state to protect Big Fill Run, a designated "exceptional value" trout stream that feeds the Little Juniata River. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers inspected the project's sites and determined they won't impact streams or wet lands.

Others on hand for the public hearing Monday at the Bald Eagle Lodge No. 51, Fraternal Order of Police, disagreed.

Representatives from the local Audubon and Sierra Club chapters, along with Little Juniata River Association, joined concerned residents in questioning the wind farm's impact on Big Fill Run and the forests of Ice and Gardner mountains.

Opponents of the project deviated from the hearing's focus on water issues to say that much of the proposed 25-turbine wind farm is in an area of exceptional conservation value and asked why not put the 400-foot-high turbines on tracts of former strip mines to the west.

Little Juniata River Association spokesman Gary Miller said the river is finally making a comeback after decades of pollution and that Big Fill Run is an integral tributary.

"The permit application has issues that raise questions," Miller said.

Not everyone at the hearing was against the project.

Debbie and Mike Flanagan of Hollidaysburg arrived with a petition of more than 200 names in support of the project.

"They're prettier than cell towers and they're nicer than cooling towers," said Mike Flanagan, who has worked to erect about 140 turbines.

"These people obviously couldn't be here but they're showing their support," Debbie Flanagan said.

DEP officials said they will take Monday's testimony regarding water issues into consideration during its review process and will continue to accept written testimony at the department's Northcentral Office in Williamsport until Nov. 30.


Source: http://www.altoonamirror.co...

NOV 24 2009
https://www.windaction.org/posts/23259-environmentalists-dep-raise-issues-with-wind-farm
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